Design UK Makes Staff Redundant Then Reposts Same Jobs Only Months Later

As my regular readers are well aware, until recently I worked at Design UK, a small design agency based in Soho, London. I enjoyed a fulfilling career as the developer of their CMS product, LavaSuite CMS, until the company faced extreme financial problems in September 2009 and were forced to make almost a quarter of their staff redundant. One of those people was me.

We all know that the world economy is in a rather unfortunate place at the moment, so redundancies are a sadly common occurrence these days. My case was more tragic than most, however, because I am a US national on a work permit that only allowed me to work for Design UK. When I was made redundant, I had a brief window during which I could try to find another UK-based company to sponsor my visa. That task proved impossible in the end and I was forced to say goodbye to all of my London friends and move home to America, homeless and jobless. My wife had to quit her job, because her right to work was tied to mine, and we had to put moving expenses for our belongings and flights home on my credit card. Due to this redundancy, I am now in debt in excess of £4000.

I’ve only been back in the States for two days, but I’m already getting back on my feet. I had a job interview today that went really well and I’m confident that I will find a fantastic new role soon. Nevertheless, the pain of being severed from the life I made for myself as an immigrant in the United Kingdom still exists. I was quickly getting over it until this appeared in my Monster job alerts today:

ColdFusion + Java Developer at Design UK, London, W1B 5LZ

Fast growing independent digital agency is looking for an enthusiastic, experienced, self motivated ColdFusion and Java developer to join our Product team to work on eCommerce and CMS systems.

Ideal candidate would have experience in developing CMS solutions.​ The core of the role will be CF development, but you will be involved in broader scope of technology.​ Knowledge of general Computer Science is a big plus too.

I stared at the screen in disbelief as the reality hit me like a punch in the stomach: the company that made me redundant and forced my move back to my home country was now hiring for that same job only five months later. The company that put me in debt after it promised me bonuses every six months but never gave me nor any of my colleagues one was now looking to hire for the very same roles it cut less than half a year ago.

Is this fair? Well, obviously not. Is it even legal? I’d be shocked if it were.

There’s nothing I can do to ever reclaim the life I just lost. There’s nothing I can do to reclaim the money I owe because of Design UK’s dodgy, possibly illegal employment practices. My story is over, but I’m worried about the ColdFusion developers that apply for a job at this “fast growing independent digital agency”, because the last time I checked, paraphrasing “made one quarter of the staff redundant” as “fast growing” is a stretch even for a creative writer like myself.

If you stumbled upon this post because you’re researching your application for this role at Design UK, please take the time to read the past several posts on this blog to familiarize yourself with my experiences during my final days at this agency. Despite the pain and hurt they have caused me, I had hoped they would sort themselves out and get their business working again. No matter how many numbers they could hope to show me now, however, I cannot believe that my round of redundancies was above board and that in five short months the company is now doing amazingly well. As much as I would like to assume the best in people, I cannot come to any other conclusion than the fact that I was shafted. I don’t know why, but I was.

My sincere advice to any self-respecting, professional developer, unfortunately has to be this: avoid this lying, insincere agency like the plague. If you got this job, they would most likely do the same thing to you that they did to me. Nothing can fix what I lost as a result of their actions, but if I can help another person like myself avoid a similar fate, perhaps what I experienced didn’t occur in vain.

UPDATE: After examining the list of visitors to this site, I found a number of recent hits from a Design UK server (duk.designuk.com). It seems as though they Googled me on January 29th and then came here, which coincidentally is the day that they posted my old job on Monster. They’ve visited repeatedly since then and seem to be particularly fond of this post. Although Googling me and reading my site on the day they reposted my old job certainly seems suspicious (as in, “hmmm, let’s make sure he’s left the country and can’t easily bring legal action against us”), I must say, I’m well chuffed at the increase in site traffic. Ta!