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Employment

What to do if you’ve been made redundant

There’s no escaping the turmoil the pandemic has brought, so The Big Issue has turned to our expert partners for redundancy advice.

The government’s job retention scheme ends on September 30, prompting companies to decide whether to retain or make redundant the 1.1 to 1.6 million people on the furlough scheme.

Redundancies fell to 99,000 between April and June — the lowest quarterly figure since 2019 — after peaking at 402,000 between September and November last year. But axing the furlough scheme could provoke another spike.

Redundancy is daunting. Workers are untethered from their regular income and routine, leaving them navigating anxiety, stress and uncertainty.

So what should you do if you are made redundant? The Big Issue spoke to experts on what action you can take — to retain stability and ring-fence your income.

I’ve just been made redundant – what is the first thing I should do?

Don’t take it personally.

“First thing’s first, take a deep breath and recognise that being made redundant is not your fault,” Andrew Hunter, co-founder of jobs board Adzuna, said. “It’s your job that’s been made redundant, not you.”

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Over 3 million people have been made redundant since March 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), “so many others are in the same boat,” Hunter added. “This is not personal.”

Then, it’s time to check that you are being treated fairly.

“Losing your job may have substantial financial consequences for you and your family,” Hunter said, “so it’s vital to check and understand what you are entitled to and make sure your employer is following the guidelines.”

Where can I read my rights?

Your first port of call is The Big Issue’s redundancy rights guide. You’ll find heaps of useful information on asserting your rights with employers.

Next, “You can find out all about redundancy advice, your rights and how to calculate a redundancy payment from the gov.uk website,” Catalina Schveninger, chief people officer at online training platform FutureLearn, told The Big Issue.

“If you have at least two year of continuous service, you are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. Some employers add additional elements, such as support with outplacement,” she added.

Every company has its own redundancy procedure, Hunter said, “but you can only be made redundant for three reasons: if a business is closing entirely, if the location where you work is to be relocated, or if the specific work that you carry out is no longer required.”

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But remember: “It’s also worth noting that if your employer has offered you a suitable alternative job within the business and you refuse to take it, you may not be able to get any form of statutory redundancy pay,” Hunter added. Redundancy pay, linked to age, can be confusing. So when it comes to assessing payments, it’s all about working smart with the right tools. The government’s redundancy calculator is crucial here.

My redundancy pay is wrong, what should I do and who can help?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), an independent public body, offers free impartial advice to employees on employment rights, rules and best practice.

“It’s important to note that if somebody has been on furlough and they are then selected for redundancy, redundancy payment is not based on their furlough, it’s based on what their normal pay would be,” Acas East of England director Maria Shinn said. “And that would include things like bonuses and regular overtime.”

If you spot something wrong, first of all, Shinn recommends, try and clear up confusion with your employer internally. Then, if that doesn’t solve the problem, you must tell Acas that you intend to make a claim to the tribunal.

At this stage, Acas will help employees and employers try and settle disputes. The aim is to avoid the need for a tribunal that could heap on more stress. “It can be a very emotionally costly thing to go through a tribunal process,” Shinn said.

The main thing to remember is you are not alone. Organisations like Acas and Citizens Advice are there to support people going through a redundancy dispute and attempt conciliation. As many as 70 or 80 percent are settled before going to tribunal, Shinn estimated.

“There are lots of opportunities to try and sort it out before you end up in an ultimate court of law,” she said.

OK, I’ve got the correct redundancy payments. Now how do I find another job?

Redundancy can be the opportunity for a new start as well as the end of an era. So how should you get back out there?

“Now is the time to get battle ready,” Hunter said. “That means dusting off your CV, polishing your online presence, and defining your skillset.”

In your CV, “It’s important to include power words that highlight your most valuable skills and demonstrate what you have achieved, said Carol Hobbs, principal branch manager at Adecco UK, a recruitment firm. “Your covering letter is a great way to highlight your soft skills, which you can draw upon further should you be asked to interview.”

Schveninger said redundancy can also be a chance to upskill. “The best place to start is to be as proactive as you possibly can and take your career development into your own hands. Whether that’s taking the time to strengthen and deepen the skills you already have, or perhaps gain new skills that will help broaden your opportunities, actively taking the time to develop yourself is never a bad thing.”

As lockdown ended, hiring kickstarted again. There were around 953,000 job vacancies between May and July, a record high, according to the ONS, growing 44 percent on the previous three months.

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Looking for work?

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And if you’re aged 16 to 24 and ​​on Universal Credit or at risk of long-term unemployment, you may be eligible for the government’s Kickstarter Scheme, which by late July had created over 155,000 job placements.

Finally, Hunter added, you should always keep your head up. “The best advice we can give is to stay positive, stay friendly, and keep an eye out for openings.”

Get career tips and advice from our Jobs and Training series:

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