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She didn't think she would be retrenched at 29

Former sales engineer Shermin Ho, 29, who is pregnant with her first child, said being retrenched took her by surprise as she did not think she would be laid off at her age. She was let go in June, and found a new job late last month as a business an
Former sales engineer Shermin Ho, 29, who is pregnant with her first child, said being retrenched took her by surprise as she did not think she would be laid off at her age.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Former sales engineer Shermin Ho received word about being laid off not once, but twice over the course of about a month.

The first time she was told about her retrenchment was in early May, about a week after she discovered that she was almost two months pregnant with her first child.

"It was a tough period because the pregnancy was unplanned. So when the retrenchment notice came around, it felt like a double whammy," said Ms Ho, 29, whose husband is a full-time tutor.

But after telling the software company's human resource department about her pregnancy, the retrenchment letter, which did not include maternity benefits, was withdrawn.

She heaved a sigh of relief and thought her job, which she started in December last year, would be safe for at least the next year.

However, the second wave of retrenchments came in June, and she was once again told that she would be laid off. This time, the retrenchment package included maternity benefits.

The retrenchments resulted in the company, which is headquartered in the United States, laying off 15 per cent of its workforce across its 40 offices.

About 15 people from the Singapore office lost their jobs.

"The second time around, I was a lot more calm because it was the same process. And I already knew the company was not doing as well," said Ms Ho. "But, of course, it was still a surprise as I never thought I would be retrenched at my age."

 
 

After frantically sending out applications, attending virtual interviews, and completing writing tests and presentations all in a bid to secure a new job, she found work late last month as a business analyst at a pharmaceutical company.

"I knew that as a pregnant woman competing against other candidates, it would be challenging especially in this climate," said Ms Ho.

But the "roller coaster ride" experience has taught her to embrace the tough times.

"While there was uncertainty and self-doubt in the beginning, I do find support from the other colleagues who were also laid off. We have each other for support."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2020, with the headline 'She didn't think she would be laid off at 29'. Print Edition | Subscribe