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How to cope with redundancy

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
Redundancy can take toll on your mental health. Photo: Getty

Losing your job can be one of the most difficult challenges you have to face in life. Coping with the financial difficulties of redundancy can lead to anxiety, stress and feelings of despair, and it can be tricky to get back on your feet when your confidence has been knocked.

Redundancy is never an easy situation to deal with, and it can take its toll on your mental health, relationships and other aspects of your life. But there are steps you can take to look after your finances, support your wellbeing and bounce back.

Make sure you are treated fairly

The Money Advice Service states that if you’re faced with redundancy, your employer must treat you fairly and act in accordance with your contract and legal redundancy rights.

This includes making sure you are consulted and given a proper notice period.

According to redundancy law, you’re entitled to a minimum notice period of 12 weeks if you are employed for 12 years or more, at least one week’s notice if you have been employed between one month and two years, and one week’s notice for each year if employed between two and 12 years.

If your employer doesn’t want you to work your notice period they can offer you a lump sum instead, which is called pay in lieu of notice.

Evelyn Cotter, founder of SEVEN Career Coaching, points out that it is worth making sure you negotiate your package.

“If you don't ask you don't get,” she says. “We see lots of clients who have a great opportunity to start a fresh in the best possible way, because they ensured they had a coaching programme funded by the company as part of their package and many can use their paid gardening leave to get the very most from the programme, without having to juggle work around it.”

“If you know of others in the organisation, who have accepted packages, reach out to them to fact-find what they received before you agree on anything,” Cotter adds. “It can vary significantly in some organisations, all dependent on the person.”

Act if you have been treated unfairly

If you think you’ve been selected unfairly or your employer has acted unfairly in other ways, such as not giving you a notice period or a consultation, you can normally appeal. If you’re still not satisfied you can take your employer to a tribunal. Citizens Advice offers information on the rules companies have to follow if they are making employees redundant.

“If there's any tiny doubt or niggle you have about anything been carried out unfairly, do not hesitate and go and speak to a employment lawyer,” Cotter says. “Do not deal with it alone and get professional advice before taking any steps.”

Work out money

The Money Advice Service, which offers free and impartial financial advice, recommends using their redundancy pay calculator and planner to work out your finances. Work out how much you need to pay your rent or mortgage, council tax and bills with what money you have, or what you will be getting.

Once you’ve prioritised these payments, you can work out your budget. If you need to reduce the amount you’re spending, you could try changing your shopping habits or switching energy providers. Set a food budget, write out a weekly plan for meals and calculate what you’re spending as you shop – or if you can’t stick to your list, try ordering your food shop online.

Look after yourself and speak to others

It’s important to speak to loved ones, friends and family who can support you emotionally during and after the redundancy process, as it can be really difficult to cope with. The stress of working out money, the pressure of staying financially afloat while finding a new job and the impact it can have on confidence all takes its toll on mental health.

Although it can seem unimportant, looking after yourself – eating well, exercising or even just going for walks – is crucial and will help support your wellbeing during a difficult time.

“Depending on the circumstances – ensure you have support, someone objective you can speak to,” Cotter says.

“Transition is challenging for everyone in different ways, it shows up the kinks in our armour and naturally makes us feel vulnerable, question our value and while all of this is natural, if you allow it to take over, you can go down a negative spiral, that takes a lot of energy to get back out of.

“Ultimately, redundancy is never personal – it's usually circumstantial and you were a number that made most sense. Try not to let it affect your sense of worth or value and find the opportunity within it to maximise the opportunity.”

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are charities and organisations which offer support and advice such as Mind and the Samaritans.

Try to see it as an opportunity

It can be very difficult, but it can help to try and see redundancy in a positive light. It might be that you’ve been unhappy in your job for a while and seeing the company make changes and cost-cutting measures. If so, this might be your chance to do something else. After all, it’s difficult to leave a job you don’t like if you don’t actually have to.

“Redundancy is an opportunity – how you see it will determine how you experience it,” Cotter says. “Have you been secretly wanting to move on, change industry or start your own business for a while? Then this is your chance.”