Debenhams checking out of the high street means up to 12,000 jobs will be lost, and many experts are predicting a redundancy cliff edge once furlough ends.
Retail isn’t the only industry on the ropes. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses are all struggling with the dramatic drop in footfall which the pandemic has brought. Redundancy is a real prospect for many.
So what should you do? Andrew Hunter, co-founder of jobs board Adzuna, and Catalina Schveninger, chief people officer at online training platform FutureLearn – who have both partnered with The Big Issue for our new Jobs & Training programme – give us their redundancy advice.
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I’ve just been made redundant – what is the first thing I should do?
Andrew Hunter: First thing’s first, take a deep breath and recognise that being made redundant is not your fault. It’s important to keep in mind the old adage – “It’s your job that’s been made redundant, not you.”
Remember, you are also not alone. Sadly, we have seen huge swathes of redundancies over the last year, meaning many others are in the same boat. This is not personal.
Then, with a clear head, it’s time to check that you are being treated fairly. Losing your job may have substantial financial consequences for you and your family, so it’s vital to check and understand what you are entitled to and make sure your employer is following the guidelines.
Unemployment has crept up and redundancies hit a record high, but there’s some hope hidden in the UK labour market data this morning.
Weekly estimates show unemployment plateaued in November. Early estimates for Dec suggest the number of people on payrolls rose by 52,000. (1/2) https://t.co/w1oZo2YcVX
— Andrew Hunter (@andrewtc04) January 26, 2021
Where can I find out what my rights are?
Catalina Schveninger: You can find out all about redundancy advice, your rights and how to calculate a redundancy payment from the gov.uk website. If you have at least two year of continuous service, you are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment. Some employers add additional elements, such as support with outplacement.
AH: Every company will have its own redundancy procedure, but you can only be made redundant for three reasons: if a business is closing entirely, if the location where you work is to be relocated, or if the specific work that you carry out is no longer required.
It’s also worth noting that if your employer has offered you a suitable alternative job within the business and you refuse to take it, you may not be able to get any form of statutory redundancy pay.
I’m worried I won’t get paid what I’m due, what should I do and who can help?
AH: Before agreeing to any redundancy terms, dig out your contract and check what you are entitled to. Your employer should pay you your redundancy pay either on your last day, or shortly after on an agreed date. The payment should be made in the same way you would normally receive your wages, for example directly into your bank account, and should be accompanied by a written statement.
CS: If you don’t think you’re getting what you’re entitled to, free help is available. A good first port of call is ACAS, an independent public body that offers free impartial advice on employment rights, rules and best practice.
— FutureLearn (@FutureLearn) February 1, 2021
When so many people have been made redundant in a sector like retail what options for employment are there?
CS: All sectors have been hugely impacted by the pandemic, for better or for worse. While there may be fewer opportunities in retail, our research has found that areas like accounting, graphic design, health and social care work, and project management are in as high demand as ever. In terms of the skills that employers in these growing sectors are looking for, you might be surprised to find that what you’ve gained from your retail career can be highly transferable and valuable.
At this time, is anybody recruiting?
AH: We know that these are unprecedented times for the UK jobs market, but there are openings out there – nearly 700,000 of them! While sectors like retail, travel and hospitality have been hard hit, there are some areas that are booming.
For example, the number of job vacancies on offer in the logistics and warehouse sector is currently 12 per cent above pre-pandemic levels with lots of positions available for delivery drivers and warehouse operatives. Healthcare and nursing is another sector hiring aggressively at the moment. This means that it’s well worth thinking beyond the sectors you may have experience in and searching for roles in these hiring hotspots.
I’m on furlough and am worried I might be made redundant when it ends – is there anything I should be doing now?
AH: Now is the time to ‘get battle ready’ and ensure you know where you stand, just in case. That means dusting off your CV, polishing your online presence, and defining your skillset.
CS: At FutureLearn we understand that it’s a stressful time for millions who are facing job uncertainty, but there can still be some hope and comfort to be found. The best place to start is to be as proactive as you possibly can and take your career development into your own hands. Whether that’s taking the time to strengthen and deepen the skills you already have for your current role, or perhaps gain new skills that will help broaden your opportunities, actively taking the time to develop yourself is never a bad thing.
AH: Finally, try not to worry. If you are made redundant, being on furlough won’t affect your statutory notice pay, which must be based on your normal wage. The best advice we can give is to stay positive, stay friendly, and keep an eye out for openings.