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6 min read

What are Your Employment Options Now Furlough has Ended?

Furlough has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic, by paying the wages of 11.6 million workers in the UK. However, since the scheme finished at the end of September almost 1 million people have been left uncertain about where their next paycheque is coming from. If you’ve been affected by furlough ending, read this article to understand your employment rights and options going forward.

Man searching for job opportunities online.

Since the start of lockdown, the government has been paying most of the wages of those who couldn’t work or who’s employers could no longer afford to pay them. However, now this scheme is ending, the financial responsibility is being put back onto these individuals. Unfortunately, the economy has changed in this time. This has meant that many companies have suffered over the course of the pandemic and can no longer afford to pay the same number of staff. Some industries have been affected worse than others, such as international travel, forcing many into redundancy. So, if you have found yourself in this position it is important you understand your rights in the redundancy process.

  • The selection process must be fair – this means that the decision must not be based on your age, gender, sexual orientation, or religious belief. Additionally, it cannot be because you are pregnant, have been a whistle-blower, are a member of a trade union, or have asked for holidays. If any of these reasons have been given for your redundancy, then this would be classed as unfair dismissal.
  • You must be given notice in accordance with how long you have been working for the company. For example, if you have been employed somewhere for between two and 12 years your employee will need to give you one week’s notice for each year you’ve been there.
  • You are entitled to tax-free redundancy pay if you have been working for your employer continuously for two or more years. The amount will depend on your age, length of continuous service and current salary. Also, if you are still owed holiday when you leave, you’re entitled to be paid for that too.

If you have been made redundant, you may be entitled to financial support from the government including:

  • Universal Credit – a payment to help with your living costs is you’re on a low income, out of work or cannot work.
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance – for people who are unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week that you are entitled to, depending on your National Insurance contribution.
  • Employment and Support Allowance – this may be available to you if you are suffering with an illness, health condition, or disability that limits your ability to work.

You may even be entitled to a combination of all three, depending on the amount of support that you need. This will depend on your individual financial circumstances and how much you have contributed in National Insurance throughout your employment. Additionally, if you are a carer or have children, a disability, or health condition then you may be able to get additional financial help from the government. Use this free online calculator to work out how much you could be owed.

Looking for a new job?

If you’ve been made redundant you may be allowed paid time off to look for a new job. If you’ve been working continuously for your employer for at least two years, you’re allowed to take 40% of your working week off to attend interviews. Additionally, if you are retraining after being made redundant you may be entitled to grants, bursaries, loans and free courses.

The good news is that job vacancies are at a record high. However, the economy has changed since pre-pandemic and so has the job market. So, if you’re looking for a job this may require a change in sector. The top 5 sectors with the most vacancies include health and social care, hospitality, technical professionals, retail and manufacturing.

Top tip: Consider your core skills and think about how they are transferable to another role. For example, if you worked as an air hostess, this could translate to another people-facing role, such as customer services.

Further reading