Coping with redundancy

Caroline Cassidy

Thanks to the continuing financial gloom, redundancies in the UK have become more and more commonplace. It's not just finances that are affected by the loss of your job - relationships, health and self-esteem can all suffer. Find out what you are entitled to, how to cope with the mental effects of redundancy and how to get back on your feet.

Coping with redundancy
Coping with redundancy

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Your rights

Your employer must have a valid reason for making you redundant - if a new technology or system makes your position unnecessary, the job you were hired for no longer exists, cost-cutting requires a reduction in staff numbers or the business is closing down or moving, you may face losing your job.

Every employer should consult with you before making you redundant. A consultation allows you to discuss why you have been selected and any possible alternatives. If possible an employer should attempt to find suitable alternative employment within the company but if not, your boss should allow you time off to look for another job.

Redundancy must not be based on personal reasons such as gender, age, race, disability, trade union membership, religion or sexual orientation. If you believe you have been unfairly selected, dismissed or denied your rights, talk or write to your employer first. Should your complaint be ignored, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers a free helpline to advise on employment rights issues.

Redundancy pay
If you have worked continuously for your employer for at least two years, you are eligible for statutory redundancy pay. How much you get depends on how long you have worked for your employer, your age and your pay. Payment for any unused holiday should be included in your final figure.To be sure that you are getting the minimum you are entitled to, visit the and use the redundancy payment calculator.

After redundancy
For anyone who experiences a period of unemployment following redundancy, it is worth checking to see whether you are entitled to state benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support. How much you get may be affected depending on your redundancy payment but you could benefit from financial and job-hunting support.

If you have received a lump sum, the temptation to spend, spend, spend can be great. But getting a handle on your finances is essential. Check to see whether any personal loans or your mortgage are covered by payment protection, which will afford you a little breathing space. Be aware of how much and when the bills are likely to land on the doormat and limit your spending accordingly.

Aside from the financial impact, redundancy can take its toll on your emotional well-being. It is not uncommon to experience anxiety or depression - trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, avoiding social situations and isolating yourself from others are all signs of depression but, if left untreated, you may end up in a vicious circle whereby you become less able to cope with the prospect of job-hunting and interviews. Redundancy is a major life disruption and if you are suffering from depression, seek help.

Moving forward
As hard as it may seem, getting into a daily routine in the wake of a redundancy is essential to staying motivated. Don't be tempted to lie-in until midday and wander about the house in your pyjamas. Try to set yourself daily tasks - work on your CV, visit recruitment agencies, or write speculative job-hunting letters to local companies - a feeling of being in control will help to keep you focused on finding a new job and avoid sinking into depression.

Many find that redundancy affords them the time (and inclination) to re-evaluate their work/life balance or career choices so try to stay positive and focus on where you would like to be - it may just prove an opportunity to retrain, change career or find a more challenging position.

Have you recently been made redundant? What advice would you give to help others in the same situation? Leave a comment below...