Why no garden leave? Ask the Expert

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A. It would be brilliant if we could just demand garden leave, instead of serving out our notice. Sadly, however, it is almost certainly entirely at the discretion of your employer. Even if every other person being made redundant were being sent home on full pay, your boss could still demand that you work out your notice.

As to what jobs you can be required to do, this depends both on your contract and on the particular circumstances of the company. You can generally only be required to do the kind of work stated in your contract of employment. However, says legal expert Makbool Javaid, the waters are somewhat muddied by case law. This suggests that an employer can require employees to do jobs outside the remit of their job description if it is "reasonable in the circumstances". So, for example, if the employer is insolvent, it may be reasonable for you to 'help out' in bringing the company to a close.

What all this means is that unless you are being asked to do something patently outrageous, like clean the toilets, you don't have a legal case and no new contract is required.

Indeed, leaving aside the legal argument, if you want a good reference you would be well advised to hide your chagrin and be as helpful as you can, says Linda Jackson at HR consultancy Fairplace. That means a good informal reference too. "It behoves us well to behave with integrity in these circumstances," says Jackson. "You want people to be saying 'What a shame we had to lose him,' rather than, 'Grumpy old so-and-so, glad to see the back of him.'"

Next week's question: I was recently made redundant from a junior fund management position with a top-tier firm during my six month probationary period. I am 31 with several internships under my belt and a good degree. I now have two new offers in junior fund sales and one to work as a headhunter. I really like the idea of headhunting but know that there would be no way back into the industry from there. What is a realistic career path in headhunting and what alternatives exist if you would like to change your job in five or ten years?

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