So you are in the office and your colleagues are discussing volunteers for the redundancy package they include you, after all you’ve been here forever and those looking to go are your age.

You bite back the ‘I am about a decade too young and can’t afford it’ retort and mutter something about lots of part-time service. It is the case women are far more likely to have worked part-time and to have broken service. They may have opted out of the pension scheme, choosing to pay for childcare instead. What may be a good idea for some men in their fifties and early sixties, to take a redundancy/early retirement package is less likely to appeal to women the same age.

So what if your workplace/job is under threat, what can you do?

Here are a few suggestions.

First, find out the actual situation. Don’t rely on rumour from the smoking area. Join a union if you aren’t already a member and attend meetings/read briefings/ask questions. Your union will be fighting job cuts see what support you can give.

Second, find out the redundancy policy in your organisation and what sort of packages are on offer.   Ask your union about any workplace redundancy policies or if the employer has agreed to offer a voluntary redundancy package.  Some employers offer more to volunteers than to those made compulsorily redundant.

What happens if I don’t volunteer? – An employer must make a selection on non- discriminatory criteria. So they can’t get rid of you just because of your age. You may get offered an early retirement package rather than compensation, if offered a choice you may need to seek independent financial advice. Your union membership may give you good rates.  Your employer should also have considered if there are any suitable alternative vacancies for you.

If you are selected for redundancy or volunteer and have at least 2 years service you should get time off to look for another job.

Many older workers find it difficult to throw themselves back into looking for a job, especially if they have been in the same place for a long time. Contact old clients/colleagues and see what is available. Use social networks, they aren’t just for sharing pictures of kittens.

Stay active and enjoy the time away from work. By showing future employers that you are positive and still willing to learn will all help. If you don’t find new work easily it’s not your fault, it’s the economy. Don’t let it get to you. Women tend to have other interests outside of work and it is important to keep those up. Indeed if work has been difficult it can be beneficial not working. Make the most of the time.

If possible, think about using your skills, experience, or hobbies to make some cash if you can. Not only will this help financially but it can also boost your self- esteem.

In terms of benefits, your redundancy lump sum is there to compensate you for the loss of your job. The first £30,000 is tax free. If you look for a job after redundancy you may be able to claim unemployment benefit, you need to check at your local Jobcentre Plus.

Where to go for help? Advisors at the Jobcentre should be able to point you in the right direction for help with your CV and brushing up on interview skills.  And the Money Advice Service 0300 500 5000 gives free impartial advice.

Posted on May 1st, 2013 by Chris Haswell filed under: Blog, Work