How can I support someone who’s lost their job?
It can be really tough to deal with losing your job, but how do you support a partner, friend, or family member when they lose theirs? Here are our top tips for dealing with someone else’s redundancy.
My partner’s been made redundant
Laura met her husband Joe at university. They had just got married and bought a house when Joe was made redundant. “It was a massive shock and awful timing – not only was it just before Christmas, but we had just found out we were expecting a baby.” Laura tried to help Joe see the positive side. “He hadn’t been very happy with his job anyway. While he was looking for a new one, I tried not to make him panic into taking the first one that came along.”
The same thing happened to Chloe, whose boyfriend lost his job while she was pregnant with their first child. “We’d been counting on his salary,” she says. “It meant he had more time with our baby boy, which helped them to bond and helped me out too, but I think the stress of the situation contributed to me developing post-natal depression. Luckily my health visitor was a complete star and really helped.”
How can I support them?
The hardest thing can be trying to cope with your feelings about the situation – without making the person who’s lost their job feel worse than they already do.
“I have found it really hard at times,” says Camilla, whose partner was made redundant during the recession. “It’s even harder when I’ve felt I can’t show him it’s also affecting me. He ends up beating himself up about it, so it’s made me not want to share my feelings. The worst times are when I’ve been stressed with work, and he hasn’t done much because he’s felt down, and we’ve argued about that.”
“The pressure and guilt you feel can be immense,” says James, whose girlfriend lost her job after the company she worked for went bust. “It’s important to let them know it’s OK to feel down about what’s happened and they don’t have to pretend to be alright all the time.”
What about their pay and claiming benefits?
If someone close to you has lost their job, it’s important they seek the best support.
- Make sure they get the correct final pay. This includes the right amount of last wages, redundancy pay (if they’re entitled to it), and any pay in lieu or holiday pay.
- Check they’ve paid the right amount of tax on redundancy pay. Redundancy pay under £30,000 is not taxable. If you’re not sure about this, get them to contact ACAS or HMRC.
- For benefits advice, get them to speak to Jobcentre Plus. They should ask for the Rapid Response Service at their local centre, which supports people who have just been made redundant. If they’re in Scotland, use Partnership Action for Continuing Employment. If they’re in Wales, use the ReAct scheme.
- Check the Citizen’s Advice website. It’s full of information for those dealing with redundancy.
- Use its benefits calculators to check which benefits they might be entitled to. They may be able to receive Housing Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Finally, you can seek debt advice if they or you are worried about what redundancy may do to your financial situation. You can read our article here on the best, free debt advice services.
We’re both really struggling
Someone who’s used to going to work every day may feel defeated joining the dole queue. They could get angry and frustrated, or show signs of depression. This isn’t something to deal with on your own – seek help from a doctor (GP) or counsellor rather than trying to shoulder the burden.
Adam’s dad became irritable and distant when he lost his job. “We were walking on eggshells all the time, trying not to upset him. I got really stressed out and fell behind on my A-level work. I was scared we’d have to move out of our house, but I didn’t want to say anything.” Adam ended up talking to his mum and explaining how much things were getting to him. “She hadn’t realised how much it was bothering me and it helped her persuade my dad to see his doctor.”
Remember, you’re entitled to seek support as well. You may not be the one who’s lost their job, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be affected by the situation. “You’re not superhuman,” says James. “If you’re part of a support network for someone you’re going to need one too.” So, talk to whoever helps to ease the burden. It may be your doctor or one of the helplines listed in our next steps section, or a simple chat with a friend or on an online forum.