What to do if you're made redundant

Stressed womanThe number of unemployed people could swell to more than three million before the economic crisis eases, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

But you're not completely powerless in the face of redundancy, there is plenty you can do to fight your corner.

Know your rights.

Take a peek at your contract of employment, which sets out your rights to redundancy pay and notice.
You are entitled to the statutory legal minimum redundancy pay, providing you have worked for your employer continuously for at least two years. You are due half a week's pay for every continuous year of service under age 22, a full week's pay for every full year between ages 22 and 41, and 1.5 times your weekly pay for every full year after age 41.

But this is only up to a ceiling of £430 a week, well below average pay, which is currently £479 a week.

Calculate your entitlement at Gov.uk. And remember, the first £30,000 of redundancy pay is tax free.

With any luck, your employer will be more generous. If they try to undercut these minimum limits - complain! Go to your employer first, then your union, if you have one, or any internal grievance system.

If that still doesn't help, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) can give you free and impartial advice.

Join together.

If your company is axing more than 20 posts within 90 days, it is legally obliged to consult any recognised union, which can negotiate a redundancy package on your behalf.

If there is no union, the affected employees can appoint their own representatives.

If less than 20 posts are being made redundant, your boss must consult directly with you and anybody else losing their job.

Don't forget to include reimbursement for any unused holiday, outstanding expenses and employee benefits in any negotiations.

Your employer should try to find another post in the company that reflects your skills and education, which you aren't obliged to accept. It isn't obliged to help you find work elsewhere.

Don't be fooled.

Being made redundant isn't the same as being sacked, and employers shouldn't exploit it to get rid of somebody.

If your company skims the correct procedures, or is hiding the real reason for getting rid of you, you could claim unfair dismissal. So if you announce you are pregnant and next day your post is suddenly made redundant, you might be a bit suspicious.

If complaining to your employer doesn't work, you may need to go to an employment tribunal.

Help! I'm self-employed!

Then bad news, I'm afraid. Statutory redundancy rights only apply to employees. Casual staff, agency workers and freelancers have little protection.

Sign on.

Banks aren't the only ones entitled to state support in a crisis - so are people who have been made redundant.

There is only one minor difference. While the banks have been lavished with billions of pounds of taxpayers' money, you will be able to claim contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance of up to £71 a week (£56.25 if under 25). And you only get that if you are actively seeking work.

Contributions-based Jobseeker's Allowance isn't means-tested, so any redundancy payout won't affect your entitlement. But you won't get a penny until the period covered by any pay you received in lieu of notice has expired.

The self-employed typically don't pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs), so do not qualify.

This payout only lasts six months, after which you can claim income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, for those who haven't made enough NI contributions.

The table below breaks down how much you may expect to receive:

Status Weekly amount
Single (under 25) Up to £56.25
Single (25 or over) Up to £71
Couples (both aged 18 or over) Up to £111.45
Lone parent (18 or over) Up to £71
Lone parent (under 18) Up to £56.25

These benefits are complicated, but you can check your entitlement online at Gov.uk.

You may also be able to claim housing benefit and council tax benefit, and if your income has fallen you should apply to get any child tax credits recalculated.

Save your home.

The Government has extended its more generous rules on its support mortgage interest (SMI), temporarily reducing the waiting time for new claims from 39 to 13 weeks, and doubling the mortgage amount you can receive relief on from £100,000 to £200,000, for a further two years.

Mortgage lenders have indicated they will treat any homeowner in arrears leniently. If you're struggling, contact them to explain any problems sooner rather than later.

Got PPI? Claim on it

If you are the proud owner of payment protection insurance (PPI), now is the time to check the policy is up to scratch by making a claim. Policies are notoriously difficult to claim on, so good luck! Read How to claim your PPI compensation for some tips.

Even if you are successful a typical payout lasts just 12 months, but hopefully this will give you enough time to find another job.

Sort out your finances.

With any luck, you'll be back in gainful employment before too much damage has been done to your finances, but until then, you should start budgeting. This online calculator may help, while Lovemoney's MoneyTrack tool will help you keep on top of exactly where your money is going.

If you're having to choose which debts to pay off, this site may help you prioritise them, starting with your mortgage.

Redundancy isn't the end of the world; for a lot of people, it can be a new beginning. But don't take it lying down.

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