What to do if you’ve been made redundant

Once you have a sense of, essentially, where is safe, once you’ve sussed out the new job landscape, it’s about seeing how you can fit into that and how to make yourself as employable as possible.

“Consider the skills you have learnt at your current and previous roles and make sure your CV is up-to-date, tailoring the information to ensure it’s relevant for the roles you’re applying to,” says Michael, advising that companies like Reed often have support online, as well as an actual redundancy CV template.

At present there are an estimated 183,336 workers in the UK who have been made redundant. This figure looks set to rise, as over 9million people in the UK are currently on furlough and huge employers like M&S have announced over 7000 redundancies.

So, what to do if that’s you? Or, if you think it could well be you in the next few months? We asked the experts.

What’s the best thing you can do if you suspect you may be made redundant?

“If you suspect you may be made redundant then be on the lookout for new opportunities and always be proactive,” advises Michael Cheary, Recruitment advisor at Reed. “Firstly, it’s worth identifying what sectors are experiencing job growth and where there are job opportunities.”

“The possibility of redundancy can be incredibly unsettling,” he says, “but by taking the lead in seeing what other jobs may suit your skillset and by updating your CV, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running if redundancy does unfortunately happen.”

Is it easy to job search while in a job?

“It is easy to job search while in a job but remember to not look for new roles during working hours,” says Michael. “Instead, set some time aside after work to dedicate to finding a new role. Not only will it help you focus on the task at hand, but it will also decrease your chances of getting caught out by your current employer – which is only likely to undermine your commitment to your current job.”

The next thing to do is to enhance your employability. Yes, it’s that CV again.

“Take this period as an opportunity to upskill. There are a huge number of different opportunities within reach – from online courses to volunteering opportunities,” he says. “All these additional skills will put you ahead of any competitors when handing in future applications.”

But make sure you are swotting up on the right courses.

“Understanding your transferable skills and successfully showing these in an application is also vital, especially if you’re thinking about changing industries. Remember to use the job description as a template for how the company you are applying for sees their ideal candidate,” advises Michael. “Use this to tailor your application instead of just sharing a generic CV. This will set you apart from the competition and will get your foot in the door to securing an interview.”

OK, so, what if the worst happens and you DO get made redundant?

“Take some time to really work out what you want and what is realistic financially. Is that another job straightaway or can you afford to take a break? Do you want the same job elsewhere or is now the right time for a change of career?” asks Shona Lowe, Private Client Corporate Director at 1825- a financial planning services company. “Do you need to earn the same salary to support your lifestyle or is there some flexibility? Financial advice could be helpful here.”

“When it comes to maximising your potential, distance learning has always been an option and works well in the current climate if you are looking to retrain or add to existing skills,” says Shona, agreeing with Michael on the importance of transferable skills. “Social media and the internet more generally have made it easy for companies and recruiters to highlight the opportunities available so take the time to do your research, get to know your chosen market and make an informed choice about the next steps that are right for you.”

What’s the first thing you should do financially?

“Take a look at your overall financial position. This can be difficult and feel daunting but it is so important!” stresses Shona. “You need to understand the full picture – savings, investments, debts, incomings, outgoings. The whole lot.”

Shona breaks this down for us (to make it less terrifying).

“Next, get a pen and blank piece of paper. Draw a horizontal line from now into the future, considering where you want to be in 10 years’ time. Think about the big events, what you want your life to look like and the income you need to make this happen,” she says.

“Now you have your ideal you need to think about what is possible. Consider how recent events might have changed this and what you value as important. Review your financial position and then revisit the goals. What can you bring forwards? What needs to be pushed back? What will be too much of a stretch financially? Can you scale this back?”

What’s the best thing to do with your redundancy payout?

“This depends hugely on personal circumstances,” says Shona. “You may have another job to go to so might want to invest this money for a longer-term goal. You might know you need the money immediately to help you meet day to day living costs or you just might not know yet.”

However daunting this whole process feels, redundancy can also be a huge wake up call for taking control of your finances overall. In fact, Shona believes, it can actually “alleviate money stress and make you feel more in control for the future.”

“As well as your current finances you should also think about your other financial affairs. An up to date Will, Power of Attorney and pension nomination are often at the bottom of the priority list but getting these in place will give you the peace of mind that you’ve taken control and set out what you want to happen, “ she says, and stresses how important it is to get help: “If you are dealing with a complex financial position, or if you have specific concerns you’d like help with, you should seek the support of a specialist financial planner or adviser who will be able to support you, answer your questions and help you plan your future with confidence.”

What do you need to know about your taxes and tax return after you’ve been made redundant?

“Much will depend on how much your redundancy payment is, your overall tax position and whether your employer will contribute to yourpension instead of making some or all of the payment to you,” advises Shona. “ Up to £30,000 of a lump sum redundancy payment will be tax free but tax and national insurance contributions may be payable on non-exempt amounts such as any paid holiday, payments in lieu of notice or the cash value of any assets you receive as part of your package, for example a company car, mobile phone or computer.”

“For most people, the tax position should be taken care of by their PAYE code and the correct amount of tax will be payable as it is taxed at source like a normal salary payment but you should still check to make sure. If it isn’t right and you have a balance to pay or a refund to claim, you’ll need to complete a tax return. If your affairs are complex, it may be helpful to have this completed by a professional.”

What you need to know about your workplace pension after you’ve been made redundant?

“Make sure you understand your existing pension and know how much you have saved – get your paperwork together, speak to your provider or adviser, check the value of your pension, where it is invested, and importantly establish the type of pension you have,” says Shona. “You need to know if it is a defined benefit (commonly known as final salary) pension or defined contribution (also known as money purchase) pension as this will have an impact on the options available to you. It’s also worth understanding whether it’s possible for your employer to put some of your redundancy payment into your pension.”

Of course, you can also still maintain your pension in its current scheme- where it can grow over time. At this significant financial junction, it is worth researching how best to invest your money.

“Your pension is an investment so it’s important to remember that investments can go down as well as up,” she says. “If you are younger you might want to take on a bit more risk, as you could have time to ride out any market ups and downs, but if you are older you might want to have less risk, so you know you savings will have a better chance of holding their value for when you want to access them in the near future.”

And don’t forget that your employer may have offered other benefits besides your pension – like private health care or life insurance – and these will need to be accounted for too.

“It’s important to know not only what pension you have but also what benefits you had in your previous job,” says Shona. “You will also need to know what you will be eligible for in your new role. The cost of the benefits you want to keep or start which you need to pay for and the pension contributions you want to make should be factored into your financial planning and it can be useful to compare the products of different providers if you’re arranging benefits yourself.”

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