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Surviving Job Loss In A Productive Way:

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 Surviving Job Loss In A Productive Way:

It has been estimated that up to a million British people could lose thier jobs this year. Thus it is important to have a strategy to cope in a productive and positive way.

Jon Robins of the Guardian offers (12 01 09) very practical steps to ensure we can make the best of a situation that is primarily beyond our control.

One crucial aspect to consider is that you are not alone. We all know that redundancy can have a huge impact on an individual or family. According to Phillip Hodson, of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, who states, “You aren’t responsible for the vagaries of the western economic cycle. You didn’t start the credit crunch in your own backyard.”

Moreover Hodson has labelled redundancy as “a social invitation to depression”. “We all project on to our work a sense of family feeling. It’s difficult to isolate the rejection in a rational way as due to the western economic cycle, the bastard in charge of hiring and firing, or bad luck,” he says. “We tend to see this as overwhelming evidence of our own failure rather than seeing the context.”

Gary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School argues, “It will still feel a rejection but you can rationalise it by saying that it’s just the time in which you live in.” The initial point needs to be re-inforced, we are not alone on this particular aspect of life.

At such times it is also important to stay positive, as difficult as this may seem. The key is to keep active and do not wallow in self-pity. Cooper states, “The most important coping strategy is to sit down and reflect on what your skills are before you start looking for a new job or trying to get training.” One needs to identify what one is actually good at and what one enjoys.

A very practical comment from Michael Carroll, professor of industrial psychology at Bristol University, who tells people in a pragmatic way “I tell people: ‘Your job now is to get a new job.” In adition he adds, “People quickly get slack about their lives. Sleep in, go down the pub, having another sleep in the afternoon,” says Carroll. “Structure is a good way of keeping the negative feelings away.”

Moreover, the best method of coping with stress is to communicate your feelings more specifically to your loved ones. The old adage, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Another familiar aspect to be considered is that time is a great healer for all of us. Counsellors will agree that people will view redundancy as traumatic at the time, however they come to view it as the best thing that has happened as it permits a re-assessment of what is important in life. As Cooper suggests, “If you’re adaptable, it is liberating.”

Moving on, it is also vital to understand your rights as an individual under these circumstances. Your employment contract will be crucial ie, if you are told to leave your desk, then check te small print. According to Lorraine Butler of Citizens Advice, she says “People generally have no idea what’s in it.”

Notwithstanding, as an individual, and by law, you are entitled to notice calculated on how many years you have been working for the company - a week per year, up to a maximum of 12 years. It can be a rude awakening just how little the statutory redundancy payment is, says Kerry Underwood, an employment law expert at Hemel Hempstead firm Underwoods.

It has also been suggested that you try toi agree terms with your employer, for example, your employer might be willing to offer more than the legal minimum (maybe a month’s pay for every year). You could also negotiate over notice periods and holiday leave or keep your laptop or stay in the company medical scheme.

For some things may not be that simple, things can go dreadfully wrong. In that case legal advice may be required from an independent source. Underwood argues, “Lawyers often get more than statutory minimum out of the employers.” Maximum compensation for unfair dismissal is £63,000.

Moreover, your employer has five key obligations and according to Robins they are as follows: “Firstly, they need to be able to show that it’s a genuine redundancy - essentially, you are losing roles for staff and so, for example, offices are closing,” says Russell Brimelow, a partner at employment law specialists Lewis Silkin. Secondly, if you are one of the selected “pool” then the employer’s choice has to be objective. You should be told what the selection criteria are (usually a points-based system). They might include “last in, first out” (although such a policy can fall foul of age- and sex-discrimination rules); disciplinary history; or performance in the job. You can ask to see your point scores although you can’t see those of your colleagues.

Thirdly, where there are large scale dismissals, trade unions need to be informed; fourthly, if there is alternative employment within the organisation then this should be offered. Finally, dismissal procedures should follow the letter. Worthy of noting however is that there is no legal aid to pay for a lawyer to represent you before a tribunal.

Contact your trade union if you are a member, your local Citizens Advice Bureau or law centre for free advice. Increasingly, lawyers act on a “no win, no fee” basis - they take a percentage cut (often 30% plus VAT) from any payout.

It has been estimated that the average British persons savings would only last up to 52 days if they were to lose their job. Therefore it is important that we prepare better for a rainy day. According to the Yorkshire Building Society, average monthly outgoings are £1,445 and the average accessible savings are £2,474.

Giving thought to insurance which includes unemployment cover can be really useful. The Post Office’s People’s Lifestyle Protection policy, £45 a month buys you £1,000 income a month for up to a year should you lose your job.

Sign on if you need to. Edward Graham, a welfare rights adviser at the Child Poverty Action Group, says there has been “an escalation in what’s called conditionality” over the last couple of decades. “The conditions you have to satisfy in order to get Jobseeker’s Allowance have gone up and up,” In other words the goal posts keep moving, but stick at it. Furthermore according to Lorraine Butler, attending the job centre keeps your National Insurance number going and this is crucial.

In addressing what claimants may be entitled to, here are rates that are current and valid when seeking Jobseekers Allowance. Over 25 years old, the rate is £60.50 a week for a single person or £94.95 for a couple. Any redundancy payout might affect your entitlement to benefits. If you have capital of more than £16,000 you aren’t eligible - that could include your redundancy payout - and there is a sliding scale between £6,000 and £16,000 reducing entitlement. There is also Council Tax Benefit fot those claiming.

It is vital that as an individual to are proactive when attempting to stay afloat. If you have a mortgage, but neither insurance or savings, there will inevitably be an extra strain. Boden Wilks states, f you haven’t paid your mortgage for two months and haven’t contacted your mortgage company, then the lender could apply to the county court for possession of your home. You cannot be evicted without a court order.

A pre-action protocol now exists in allowing home-owners three months breathing space. There are a number of options to explore, such as moving on to an interest-only loan.

Finally it is fundamentally vital that you prioritise debt, secured loans over unsecured loans.

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