A Guide for Redundancy support during the Coronavirus Crisis

At Escape The City, we are having daily conversations with both members of our community who are already facing an unexpected loss of income, and employers that are freezing hiring whilst shifting focus to ride out this wave.

In the last 7 days alone, there has been a +1,050% increase in people Googling ‘covid 19 redundancy’, which reflects what is going on in the state of the nation.

To help people facing redundancy, we will be running a virtual 4-week Career Reset programme in May. It’s 100% free, sign up now if you feel it may be applicable to you.

In the meantime, to help support and inform you in this time of uncertainty, we’ve answered key questions that people are asking right now…

*NB some of the advice in this post is only applicable to those in the UK.*

Can I be made redundant because of Coronavirus?

The unfortunate truth is, yes, you can be made redundant due to the financial impacts of the virus. 

No matter how exceptional we are in our day jobs or how much we need the income to stay afloat, businesses are always vulnerable to to economic and societal threats that are bigger than themselves. And as one of their biggest cost drivers, human resourcing is one lever they can pull to curtail spending quickly.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged struggling businesses to stick by their employees and many rescue packages are being put in place to help protect the economy and millions of jobs.

On Friday 20 March, the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government is to cover 80% of salaries for staff kept on by their employer but unable to work. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) will cover wages up to £2,500 a month. Read more about that here.

This measures could hopefully save millions of jobs, including yours.

I’ve already been made redundant. What do I do now?

If you’ve already been made redundant because of Coronavirus, it’s worth going back to your employer to see if you can be enrolled on the Job Retention Scheme.

Companies that need short term cash flow support may also be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.

These packages were just announced on 20 March and can be backdated to 1st March, so do check back in and see if the support could make a difference to your employment status. If you were in work as of 28th February, you may be eligible should your employer be willing to enrol you.

You might also offer to take unpaid leave or to go down to fewer days per week. Have an open and honest conversation with your employer to see what options may be available to you, and be willing to be flexible if you’re able to.

What employment legal rights do I have and what support can I access?

If you’re faced with redundancy, your employer must treat you fairly and act in accordance with your contract and legal redundancy rights. 

Your employer has to follow a fair process if you’ll have worked for them for at least 2 years by the time your work finishes. You should be invited to at least 1 individual meeting with your employer to discuss redundancy.

Apart from your individual meeting, there isn’t a set process. Your employer still needs to have a clear process, but there are no rules about what it should be.

Read more information on redundancy rights via Citizens Advice. Plus, get these questions answered here:

What is the difference between being laid-off and redundancy?

1) You can be laid-off (asked to stay at home or take unpaid leave) – This is when employers temporarily cannot give you paid work.

2) You could also be asked to do short-term working – Which is when you do reduced hours or are paid less than half a week’s pay.

Both of these measures can help avoid complete redundancy. Read about your rights if your hours are cut or you’re laid off.

I’m struggling to pay my rent or mortgage

1) If you’re renting:

Shelter.org.uk have advised people to speak to their landlords if anyone is struggling to pay rent. Many landlords are agreeing to rent reductions or are accepting of late rent arrears due to the unforeseen circumstances we find ourselves in. Do try to get any agreement in writing.

2) If you’re paying a mortgage:

There is a 3-month mortgage payment holiday for those struggling to cover their mortgage because of coronavirus. Speak to your lender to find out what support they are offering.

What do I do after being made redundant?

The important thing to remember is that you have options.

There are a variety of roles live on the Escape The City job board and you can leave your email here to receive a newsletter every Monday morning with opportunities that are and become available. Our latest newsletter spotlighted ten remote-working positons.

In addition, there are many companies that have increased their hiring, particularly supermarkets. They are speeding up their application process timelines too.

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Fellow B-Corp, Cook, are likely to be in need of temporary and casual staff in the coming weeks to keep their kitchens, warehouses and home delivery service running. If you can help, email jobs@cookfood.net.

Remember that whatever you decide to go for, it doesn’t have to be a permanent move. This is about helping you get back on your feet and stabilising your finances whilst you figure out your next steps.

If you have already been made redundant or are concerned about the prospect of it happening, we recommend keeping up to date with the latest government support available to you via these pages: 

  1. GOV.uk ‘coronavirus support for employees
  2. Citizens Advice Bureau ‘what coronavirus means for you
  3. Money Advice Service ‘what coronavirus means for you’

How can I improve my finances?

One of the biggest fears that come up with redundancy, is money. You can watch a video about money management in a crisis here.

Here is how you can save money during this time:

  1. Review all of your streams of income for the next few months – Do some scenario planning on the likelihood and impact of each of these stopping or reducing.
  2. Review your costs for the next few months – Where could you cut expenses if you need to? Remember to continue to support small businesses and freelancers who are also at risk if you are able to.
  3. Get very clear on your money map system – Know where all of your money is, what accounts it’s in and if it’s invested know what markets you are exposed to. Don’t make any rash decisions on moving it for now though.

How to potentially make money during this time:

  • Do some idea generation for any new opportunities this throws up for you:
    • Do you finally want to test out trying to get freelance gigs?
    • Make videos or new content for online?
    • Build new skills through online course providers?
  • Make your assets work a bit harder for you:
    • Can you rent out your: spare room, space in your loft, parking space, or even car? The sharing economy startups Stashbee, JustPark, Fat llama, and Hiya car are worth checking out.
  • Identify one way in which you can help at least one other person who might be needing support over the next few months – It may not make you money now, but offering a valuable service now (even voluntary) could open a financial gateway in the future.

…. Escape School faculty member, Ben Keene, says that he thinks we’re going to see an explosion of creativity and necessary innovation. Read how to be creative in a crisis.

What can I do at this time to improve my career prospects?

No matter the circumstances or economic climate, it’s always important for people to up-skill to remain relevant. Look at these three ways to get started:

  1. Build your personal brand: Use this time to update your LinkedIn using the tips in this infographic, polish up your CV or master the art of pitching yourself and your skills.
  2. Learn new skills that are in-demand: What can you do in this present time to help you upskill and stand out in the market now or in the future? Check out inexpensive online course providers like Skillshare or Udemy. We’re likely to be spending a lot of time indoors over the next few months, make the most of the time you have to upskill yourself and make yourself more attractive for future employers.
  3. Stay connected with like-minded communities: Join Facebook groups, like ours, with people who are discussing topics that interest you and who can support you and help you move forward.

Many education providers, including ourselves, are now offering all their workshops and courses remotely. Lots of which you can access for free or at discounted rates.

Our friends at General Assembly are also providing the Escape community with a 25% discount to any of their online learning events that are listed here. Simply use the discount code ‘escape25’.

How can I look after my mental wellbeing?

Over 80% of people are significantly more stressed and anxious because of the Coronavirus outbreak according to a Thrive Global survey.

Of course, it is incredibly hard, but try to not constantly dwell in frustration or fear. It’s a window for envisioning a new, brighter future.

“The best advice is too often the most boring. Sleep well, eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water – we’ve all heard it before. What we may not hear as often is the boring – but true and helpful – advice for staying on top of our mental health: connect, take notice, keep learning, and give.” Spill.

  1. Try not to consume too much negative news: Focus on media outlets that bring you hope such as Positive News.
  2. Find time for daily meditation: Headspace is offering free meditations you can listen to any time.
  3. ‘The chicken soup for the soul is other people’, says Spill, who have opened up their ‘ask-a-therapist’ feature to the public.

Also take a look at:

This is a time for community, adaptability, and generosity. We will get through these uncertain times together.

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[The information set out below is accurate to the date of 23 March. We will keep updating the article based on new government policies and useful resources]

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