What To Do If You’ve Been Made Redundant

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s livelihoods and if you’ve been a victim of redundancy, chances are you’re one of thousands – and counting. From mental health strategies to exercising your rights on pay and references, here’s what the experts want you to know…

NEVER TAKE IT PERSONALLY

When your employer delivers the bad news, it’s easy to assume you’re being made redundant because you’re bad at your job or not contributing to the organisation. While this is rarely the case, looking at your bosses’ decision as a rational and unemotional move takes practice. “A big part of the redundancy process can be understanding what’s happening and why,” admits Bonnie Gifford from Life Coach Directory. “It can help to acknowledge that there’s a logical, commercially-driven decision behind what is happening.” It also helps to remember you aren’t alone – especially right now. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), nearly five out of every 1,000 employees in the UK lost their job between April and June this year alone – nearly a 25% rise on the comparable period last year. “You may not have control over losing your job, but you are able to control how you deal with that loss and move forward,” adds Bonnie.

CONSIDER NEGOTIATING

It might not feel natural, but careers experts agree it might be worth opening a negotiation channel with your employer before accepting their redundancy offer outright. “Don’t be afraid to bargain and ask for more than your employer is initially prepared to give,” a spokesperson from Personal Career Management says. “This might include an extra month’s pay, keeping the company laptop, funding towards re-training or an enhanced redundancy lump sum. Organisations are looking to act quickly to protect their cash flow so they may be happy to offer more if it helps facilitate a swifter and easier exit.” Whatever package you’re being offered, remember you should get your original salary rate, not a reduced furlough rate (if applicable) - something which was made law on 30th July 2020.

KNOW YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS

If you are made redundant, it’s important to know your rights. You can only be chosen for redundancy fairly ⁠— it can never be based on your age, gender, disability or mental health status. What’s more, if you’re legally classed as an employee and have over two years’ service, you will have rights related to redundancy and unfair dismissal. “The Money Advice Service has some great advice on understanding your legal rights when facing redundancy,” suggests Bonnie. “The official government website also has everything you need to know about redundancy, along with a simple tool to help you calculate your statutory redundancy pay. Based on your age, weekly pay, and how long you’ve been working in your current job, as long as you have been with your current employer for at least two years, you’re entitled to statutory redundancy.” In addition to this, Bonnie says it’s important to remember to check your contract and consider a chat with your union representative to discuss your entitlements.

DON’T BURN YOUR BRIDGES

While negotiations or checking your legal rights might lead to some uncomfortable conversations – particularly if you consider your co-workers more like friends than colleagues – it’s important things don’t turn ugly. Instead, keeping things strictly professional will ensure you don’t burn any bridges in the industry, which might impact you further down the line. “Try to maintain good relations wherever possible with your previous employer, even if you disagree over the manner of your exit,” agrees a spokesperson from Personal Career Management. “You will still need a reference for your next job, and it may be that your boss or colleagues can make useful introductions or offer you consultancy work in the future.”

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR MONEY

If the decision has come out of the blue and you have nothing lined up, it might be the case that you find yourself in a financial predicament. Start by working out your financial situation so you have a realistic picture of your finances and cash flow before contacting an organisation like Jobcentre Plus to find out what financial help you are entitled to. Alternatively, Creating a budget can be a good first step – the Money Advice Service has plenty of suggestions to get you started – while some people may find it helpful to set aside a specific time each week to go through bills and other spending. “Remember to check if there are any benefits or grants you may be entitled to whilst looking for a new job,” adds Bonnie. “Depending on which part of the country you live in, the main benefits you may qualify for are Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, or an Employment and Support Allowance. You may also be entitled to other benefits such as tax credit or help with housing costs.” Additionally, if you’re concerned about mounting credit card debt, loan payments or bills, turn to Citizens Advice  for guidance. “Try to carefully budget any lump sum redundancy payment you may receive,” warns Bonnie. “It’s not something we like to think about, but there’s no guarantee as to how quickly you’ll be able to find a new position.”

ANALYSE YOUR CAREER GOALS

While redundancy might have come as a shock – and certainly brought significant inconvenience with it – losing a job you didn’t like may well be a blessing in disguise, especially if you’re willing to use this time as an opportunity to reassess your goals and career direction. “Redundancy can present the opportunity to help you take stock of your skills, talent, and experiences,” agrees Bonnie. “Changing jobs or career paths can provide the chance to readdress your work/life balance if your old role left you feeling exhausted, stressed, or on the path to burnout. If you aren’t sure where your passions lie, what you want to do next, or what your long-term goals are, working with a personal development coach can help. They might be able to help you set goals, track your achievements, and start recognising your progression.” The experts at Personal Career Management concur: “While it’s undoubtedly a difficult and unsettling time, redundancy does give you the opportunity to think about what you really want for the future. It also gives you the space to explore a wide range of opportunities that you otherwise may have been too busy to consider.”

START NETWORKING

Whether you’ve decided to stick to the same industry or make a U-turn, it’s important to get networking as soon as possible in order to find the next opportunity. As Bonnie explains: “If you are looking for a new position, making the most of your existing network and expanding on your contacts can be beneficial. Using social media can be a simple way to network at any age. Have a clear social media presence, be proactive on groups, and have an active, engaged account on sites like LinkedIn, professional Facebook groups and even Twitter. Share your expertise and industry knowledge – the more you put yourself out there, the more you can start raising your profile and (hopefully) start getting noticed by the right people.” 

STAY BUSY & BRUSH UP

In this kind of climate, it might take some time for you to land on the next job – or even interview. In the meantime, it’s important to stay busy, not least for your own sanity but also to ensure any gaps in your employment are more easily explained in the future. After all, potential employers will be impressed to see how you demonstrated some initiative during such a difficult time. Consider volunteering or learning a new skill – FutureLearn and OpenLearn have  a number of free online courses to try – and take this time to brush up your CV and career profiles. “Consider all of the skills, tasks and achievements from your last role, and how you can take this forward into a new position,” suggests Bonnie. “It’s not just about stuffing keywords into your CV in the hope it’ll be picked by online algorithms – your CV gives you the space to showcase your accomplishments, experience, and personality. While you’re at it, use this time to tailor each cover letter to suit each role you apply for. Simple details like making sure you get the hiring manager’s name right can help create a good first impression.”

LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Losing a job can be a huge adjustment and it’s normal to experience a range of emotions, from shock and anger, through to relief and gratitude. Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings and talk to other people about what you are experiencing. Being made redundant is nothing to be ashamed of – so be kind to yourself. “It can be tempting to spend every waking hour searching for new jobs, but putting that extra strain on yourself won’t help,” warns Bonnie. “By putting 110% into looking for a new role, you can neglect your well-being, become disheartened, and start making small but silly mistakes (like sending the wrong cover letter to the wrong company) that can damage your prospects.” If you are experiencing mild signs of depression, mental health charity Mind recommends looking at its A-Z of mental health, as well as staying active and focusing on eating well. 
 
If you are struggling to cope with redundancy, consider contacting one of these relevant organisations which might be able to help:
 
Citizen’s Advice
Money Advice Service
StepChange
Mind
Samaritans

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