Credit Suisse and Barclays have already set the ball rolling with a few layoffs, and further trauma seems likely unless something changes drastically in the next few weeks. Personally, I avoided being laid off throughout my long and illustrious career in the City. This was partly due to consistent over performance, and partly to innate cunning. If it looks like there may be trouble ahead one of the following strategies might just save your neck.
1) Nervous breakdown
This classic trick requires claiming you’ve been subject to some form of breakdown and hence devolving yourself of responsibility for any errant behaviour or underperformance. It can be hard to pull off unless you have displayed a few prior symptoms, but will get the HR department on your side and make dismissal unlikely.
Lodging a separate complaint regarding some unconnected and not necessarily significant misdeed you witnessed at the bank should ensure that your employer cannot fire you until your allegation has been thoroughly investigated. This can take an extremely long time.
3) Emerging from the closet
A P45 for someone who has just come out of the closet has lawsuit written all over it. I remember thinking that Morgan Grenfell’s rogue fund manager Peter Young had tried this trick when he went to court dressed in women’s clothing in 1999 (though the fact he had taken it upon himself to attempt a gender realignment operation suggests he was genuinely mentally disturbed).
4) The racist/sexist card
A simple suggestion that you have been the recipient of racial or sexual abuse in the workplace will make you inviolable in any coming round of redundancies. However, it may not do you any favours longer term.
Only open to women, this is probably the most infallible strategy of the lot. Yes, banks do make pregnant women redundant, but they think long and hard about it first. A feigned pregnancy need not endure beyond December; not all pregnancies are successful.
6) The AA play
If you’re in trouble for a drink or drugs related issue then make sure the HR department know before your meeting with them that you’re seeking treatment. This should ensure that you are miraculously transformed from being a disruptive pisshead or junkie into a victim of a ‘disease’.
If you make it known that you are going through a bereavement, divorce, death of a pet, or life trauma, you will get the sympathy vote. Banks are not known for being sympathetic, but they are staffed by humans, who are.
None of these tricks are for the faint hearted; all should be undertaken after careful consideration. Some of them might save your job.
Geraint Anderson is author of ‘Cityboy – Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile.’