Your survival guide to redundancy

Job losses are far below their pandemic peak in 2020, but fears of recession and high-profile layoffs like those at P&O are a reminder that no job is completely secure. And if that bad news arrives, it’s a huge financial and emotional shock – just when you need to be at your best to start a new job search.

So how do you absorb the blow, get organised and get back on your feet? We searched out some expert tips for this five-step survival guide.

Know your rights 

Redundancy happens when a business needs to reduce its workforce and closes jobs. “It’s not the same as getting the sack,” says BBC personal finance reporter Kevin Peachey. “If you are made redundant, you have a number of legal rights.”

That means you must be chosen fairly – not on your age, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, or because you’re pregnant, you’ve been a whistleblower, or you’ve asked for leave. You must be consulted and given notice of between a week and 12 weeks, depending on how long you’ve worked there. And employers cutting 20 or more jobs at once must hold a collective consultation for at least 30 days.

Get support

If you don’t think you’re being treated fairly, free help is available. ACAS – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service – is an independent, publicly funded body that can help to resolve workplace disputes. They’ve got plenty of advice about what to expect in redundancy on their website, and you can call their helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Citizens Advice can also help you check if your redundancy is fair and how much pay you should get. You can also call for advice, talk online or visit your local Citizens Advice.

Sort out your finances

As soon as you know redundancy might be on the cards, do a health check on your finances. Pay off debts if you have any savings, but hang on to your emergency fund. Draw up a budget that will help you stay within your means. And check out a benefits calculator to see if you can get some support, either before or after the redundancy.

Money Saving Expert’s Kit Sproson says: “If losing your job is likely, start living now as if you’d already lost it. Cut back on everything, and put spare cash away to help you live when there’s less income.”

Take care of your mental health 

For many of us, work isn’t just about money, but it’s also a big part of our identity and sense of purpose. Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at the charity Mind, says people can feel a significant impact on their self-esteem, as well as being unsure how to fill their time.

“Try to remember that being made redundant is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame,” she says. “Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings and talk to other people about what you are experiencing – support is available.” You can call the Mind helpline on 0300 123 3393.

Search for your next role 

When you’re ready, it’s time to start revising your CV and LinkedIn profile to incorporate your latest career achievements before you search the job adverts. If you’ve got a redundancy payout or company funding for retraining, now is an ideal time to see if your abilities might transfer to another industry – especially if the new one is more secure.

What should you tell potential employers? Katherine Burik, the founder of The Interview Doctor career coaching, suggests being direct and matter-of-fact: “Something like: ‘My last position was eliminated. I am looking for X.’ Turn the conversation away from being made redundant, which you can’t control, to what you want.”