Gender equality issues have come a long way since Emily Pankhurst and the Suffragettes put their lives at risk to fight for women’s right to vote. However, there are still a lot of kinks to iron out in employment law and the daily reality us working mums face.

Redundancy is just another area of concern. Pregnant working women are twice as likely to be made redundant than any other working woman. The Fawcett Society (the UK charity that campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights at work, home and in public life)  have been striving with Maternity Action to ban employers from making pregnant women redundant.

The charities presented The Pregnancy and Maternity (Protection from Redundancy) Bill to Parliament in May 2019, to prevent employers from making women redundant during pregnancy and up to six months on their return to work, following maternity leave, except in exceptional cases. This is in addition to The Equality Act 2010 legislation, which is intended to prohibit pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

If you’ve been made redundant, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something fishy is going on – although there is always that chance; and if you feel this to be the case, it is worth looking into and following the legal channels to do so.

Getting made redundant can be one of the most devastating events in a person’s life – especially when it comes as a shock. But, I can honestly say that it doesn’t mean devastation; I should know, I have survived two redundancies, and they have been financially rewarding on each occasion!

Redundancy doesn’t have to be devastating to your bank account – or the rest of your life. There are many tried-and-tested ways to bounce back after a layoff; you may even end up better off than you were before, after all, when one door closes, another one opens. 

Gone are the days when a redundancy would besmirk your professional reputation and make you look incompetent. It is so commonplace now, and it has nothing to do with your professional prowess or standing. Redundancy can often lead to even better opportunities than you could ever imagine. Sometimes, being forced to look outside the box is just what we all need to appreciate the opportunities that are out there in the world. 

In this guide, you will learn about dealing with being made redundant, both emotionally and practically. If my experience of two redundancies is anything to go by, I can confidently say that, but if you really play your cards right, you can secure the job of your dreams, or set up a business that will give you everything you need. And we all know that flexibility and financial viability is at the top of that list!

Coping with the Shock of Redundancy

Dealing with the shock of becoming unemployed is one of the most stressful things about redundancy that will have to be overcome. It can trigger all sorts of emotional issues; which can sometimes cloud the mind.

Dealing with the emotional side of redundancies is the only way to get over the paralysis that often comes with such ‘bad news’. The first thought for most people is, ‘Why me?’. It can be all too easy to feel that you might have done something wrong – or several things wrong. This tendency to blame yourself might potentially be valid if they haven’t been working at your best, but if you’re shocked, about the redundancy announcement, this is unlikely to be the case.  In most cases, redundancies are a purely financial decision on the part of the company, and not something to be taken personally. Redundancy often results in either the most expensive employee, team or department being laid off. This is because they are considered to be surplus to the requirements of their department, team or organisation.

If you are one of a small number of people to be made redundant, it can be extremely distressing, compared to being part of a large number of people who are made redundant. In the latter, it can be easier to take some comfort from the fact that you were one of many. That still doesn’t make it worry-free. You might be worried that there will be many people with the same sort of skills and experience as yourself who are looking for the same jobs. This is understandable, but there are enough opportunities out there for everyone.

You must remain clear about what to expect once you are made redundant, and know your rights. 

Redundancy: The impact on loved ones

Having a positive, can-do attitude is particularly important if you have a spouse or partner and children who depend on your income. 

It can be devastating when your income suddenly vanishes overnight; even worse if you are made redundant at certain times of the year, such as just before the end-of-year holidays (when redundancies are quite common). 

You will likely already have a household budget in place, but if you don’t, this should be your first step. Write down your monthly essentials, such as your mortgage or rent, childcare, food, utilities, car, insurance costs, and any other essential expenses. Everything else in your spending should be considered a luxury until you are earning a steady income again. Your priorities may have to be adjusted in order to survive the tough times – just use wisdom.

Let’s look next at the practical steps of the actual redundancy, and what your immediate steps.

Know Your Redundancy Rights and Get Paid What You Are Entitled To 

It can be quite a challenge to think straight when you have just been made redundant, but these necessary steps can make a difference between success and failure when it comes to coping with this challenge.

One of the most important tasks is to discover what you are entitled to.

A primary thing to look into is redundancy pay. You are entitled to statutory redundancy pay if you have been working for your current employer for at least two years.

If you meet the above requirements, you’ll get:

– An entire week’s pay for each full year you that were between 22 and 41 years of age.

– One-and-half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 years of age or older.

When it comes to redundancy payouts, the length of service (which has an impact on how much the payout is) will be capped at 20 years.

Redundancies that are made after the 6th April 2019 will have the weekly pay capped at £525. The maximum statutory redundancy pay you are entitled to would be £15,750. If you were made redundant before 6th April 2019, you would get paid a lower amount.

How to Calculate Your Redundancy Pay

Redundancy pay (including any severance pay) that is less than £30,000 is not taxable.

If it is more than £30,000, your employer will have to deduct tax and National Insurance contributions from any pay or holiday pay they owe you.

Redundancy Pay Exceptions

You will not be entitled to statutory redundancy pay if:

– Your employer offers to keep you on.

– You refuse suitable work offered by your employer without good reason.

It is worth noting that being dismissed for misconduct at work does not count as redundancy. Therefore, you would not get redundancy pay if this happens.

Also, you will not be entitled to statutory redundancy pay if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

– You are a crown servant, member of the armed forces or police services.

– You are an apprentice who is not employees at the end of their training.

– You are a domestic servant who is a member of the employer’s immediate family.

You must be clear about the terms of the severance package. This should not just be in terms of how much money you can expect, but also whether there is anything else involved in it, for example, gardening leave.

If your redundancy is through no fault of your own, your employer should happily give you references. This reference would come from either your line manager or any other person in the company who has direct experience or understanding of the work you have been putting in.

If your redundancy has some complications, or bridges have been burnt, you can try to see if there is someone in the organisation who would be willing to give you a testimonial. You could also ask former clients you have worked with (if there is no clause in your contract -such as a Non-Disclosure Agreement) that disallows this.

Time Off For Job Hunting

If you have been an employee for two years (at the date your notice period ends), you will be entitled to a reasonable amount of time off to:

– Look for another job.

– Arrange and take training to help you find another job.

This ‘reasonable amount of time’ you take will depend on your circumstances.

Regardless of how much time you take off work to find another job, the most your employer has to pay you is 40% of one week’s pay, to cover your time off job hunting.

For example, if you work five days a week and you take four days off in total during the whole notice period – your employer only has to pay you for the first two days.

Unemployment Benefits

You can also look into getting benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance while you job hunt, by speaking with your local Benefits Office.

There’s a maximum amount of JSA you can get, which will depend on factors like your age, income and savings.

Use a benefits calculator to check how much JSA you can get, and how your other benefits may be affected.

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