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Furlough: the reality of what happens when it ends on 31 October

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Hollie Richardson
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Whether you will continue to work on the Job Support Scheme or are coming to terms with being made redundant, here’s everything you need to know about what happens to furloughed employees after the scheme ends this weekend.

Nearly eight months after Rishi Sunak announced a furlough scheme to help the 10 million people who couldn’t do their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak, the measure is now coming to an end on Saturday 31 October. 

The government’s aim was to prevent mass redundancies by paying 80% of furloughed employees’ wages. While many people have slowly returned to work, others have sadly been made redundant (the figure was 242,501 at the last count, as per data reported by The Guardian).

Furlough will be replaced by a new Job Support Scheme, but it remains unclear whether it will protect as many jobs as its predecessor. For the 2.8 million employees who were still on furlough in September, this likely means more redundancies from November onwards. 

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In fact, the job search website Indeed has reported that last month more than 1,700 employers notified the government that they intend to make large scale redundancies, cutting more than 20 jobs each. In turn, Indeed has seen over 670,000 UK workers who use its site upload or update their CV throughout October. 

Explaining what these figures tell us, Indeed’s UK economist says: “Furlough preserved millions of jobs that might otherwise have been lost as large parts of the economy were shuttered by the pandemic. But as the scheme ends, thousands of employers and their staff are facing up to a stark reality – many of these jobs simply won’t be viable without the furlough’s support.

“The spike in the number of people uploading a CV, or updating an existing one, on Indeed in October hints at just how steep the ‘cliff edge’ in job losses could be.”

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Being made redundant is hard enough without the added worries of a pandemic. If you currently find yourself in this situation or are concerned about possible redundancy, here’s everything you need to know.

What happens if you are made redundant after furlough ends

The Job Support Scheme, which you can find information on via its website, will replace furlough from 1 November. For those who are eligible, the government and your employer will pay some of your wages for the hours you’re not working. If you are made redundant under the scheme because your employer is now insolvent, the government has also outlined your redundancy rights on GOV.UK. You will also find great advice through Citizens Advice and Money Saving Expert.

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Redundancy after furlough: it's important to know your rights, get the best tips for job searching and look after your mental health.

Tips for job searching in the pandemic

Yes, it is of course tougher than usual to find a new role at the moment. It’s important, however, to remember the fundamentals when it comes to searching and applying for jobs, as well as potentially approaching things from a slightly different angle. James Reed, chairman of recruitment firm REED, advises job seekers:

Upskilling and reskilling

If you’ve sadly been made redundant or have a gap in your CV, it’s always good to demonstrate to potential employers that you used your time wisely. Showing initiative and learning new skills will enhance your CV and widen your options, putting you at a competitive advantage against other applicants.

Use transferable skills

With fewer opportunities than usual, you may have to look further afield for a new job in a sector or role that might not be your first choice. If this is the case, you must carefully consider past experiences – no matter how trivial they may seem – and highlight any commonalities with the job description even if similarities aren’t immediately apparent.

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Avoid jargon and clichés

In your CV and interview, try to avoid incomprehensible jargon and tired phrases such as “team player” – which should go without saying. These won’t help you to stand out and could frustrate an employer who is looking to understand your character on a deeper level.

Show your personality

Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your CV and interview. Employers will also be assessing how well you could fit into the company culture. Adding individuality to your application can help differentiate your application.

Practice makes perfect

It’s always worth practising for interviews with a friend or family. For example, you can anticipate common interview questions such as “why do you want to work for this company?” and prepare possible answers.

A woman working from home
Furlough: make sure you read the government's information on furlough and the Job Support Scheme.

Looking after finances after redundancy

Even without the added pressure of redundancy, looking after your finances in a pandemic can be a cause for concern for some people. Bukiie Smart, author of The ABCs of Personal Finance and founder and editor of Save Spend Invest, recently shared this advice with Stylist: “Focus on cutting expenses ruthlessly. Look at your bank account and assess where your money is being spent on and if they are essentials. You are in survival mode, at least for the short term, so you need to think like that.

“Look at your subscriptions in particular, what are you being debited for that you could really do without? Can you remove your Spotify subscription for example, and live with the ads? Can you cancel Amazon Prime and use a friend’s account? Remember this is only temporary, but your focus is to save as much money as possible. Cash is king so look for it and save, save, save!”

If you’re seriously concerned about money and debt, Citizens Advice also has a lot of information and tips

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Looking after mental health following redundancy

Throughout all of this, you should absolutely try and prioritise your mental health. It’s totally normal to feel sad, angry and worried after a redundancy, so it’s important to allow yourself some time to navigate these emotions.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at the mental health charity Mind, recently told Stylist readers: “Make sure you give yourself space and time to express these feelings and talk to other people about what you are experiencing – support is available…

“Remember to be kind to yourself, practise some self-care, and spend some time reflecting on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Perhaps you could write a list of all the skills and qualities you have, and take a moment to celebrate them.”

She adds: “The current economic situation means that, unfortunately, redundancies are unavoidable – try to remember that being made redundant is nothing to be ashamed of; you are not to blame.”

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