Redundancy in later life
Redundancy is rarely an easy upheaval to face. It may strike at your feelings of self-respect and esteem, your finances and even your health.
If it strikes in later life, the consequences may be even more difficult to bear – but is it really the end of the world you might be dreading?
Far from the doors you know being closed firmly shut in your face, redundancy might instead be a passport to a better life and a rosier future.
Your chance to decide what you really want to do
For once in your life, you might have the opportunity to decide just what it is you really want to do.
Many of us drift into a job or career when we leave school or university and those early decisions tend to define the prospects for work thereafter.
It might even have been a chance remark by the careers’ adviser at school that nudged us into a particular line of work. At that impressionable age, the advice may have been taken more seriously than our early knowledge of the world had yet grasped. Once taken, though, the advice – however well-intended – may have consigned us to a pattern of work that was less than satisfying or personally rewarding.
But our concerns at that tender age are likely to have been quite different to those we have reached in later life. As youngsters, for example, we are likely to be concerned about finding a job or career that “just” fits our expectations and aspirations, rather than the one we’d always dreamed of.
The decisions at that age may have been driven as much by the financial imperatives of providing for ourselves, a young family, perhaps with children on the way, and a mortgage to pay.
Life after redundancy
The upshot is that there is very much a life after redundancy – and throughout the many years of retirement that are likely to follow.
Whenever you are looking for a change of direction in life, of course, and whenever you want to be able to consider all of your options, it helps to have a firm financial footing.
If you have been made compulsorily redundant, you are almost certain to be entitled to at statutory redundancy pay as a minimum – provided you worked for the same employer for more than two years. The current rates are published on the government website. But your employer may also have offered his own redundancy package.
An advantage in later life is that you are likely to have achieved a fair degree of financial stability. Even though it might not have brought every personal satisfaction, the job you held saw you comfortably through the business of raising your children and paying their way through university. If you own your own home, the mortgage is also likely to have been paid off – or very nearly there.
You might have been earning enough by now to have built up a nest-egg of savings or are already enjoying the fruits of your investments.
And backing it all, of course, is likely to be a pension pot – or several different pension pots if you have contributed to a number of occupational schemes or private pension plans. You don’t need to wait until redundancy or retirement itself, since it is never too late to begin your financial planning for the future.
What you really want to do
So, you have the new-found freedom to choose what you really want to do. What is it going to be? It could be just about anything, of course, now that you have that passport to a new future.
In its edition of the 30th of August 2018, for instance, the Telegraph newspaper carried a story about a 54 year-old former banking management employee who had been recently made redundant from his position after some 33 years in more or less the same line of work.
Having put the effort into marshalling his life savings, the subject of this case history decided that his true passion was for photography. Thanks to the financial stability he and his family had achieved, redundancy posed no threat, but instead allowed him to enrol on a master’s degree course at university before embarking on a whole new career doing something he loved.
Photography was just one person’s change of direction of course – and your own is down entirely to a matter of personal choice.
At this stage in your life, you do not have to rush into anything. Indeed, Citizens’ Advice offers a reminder that a little-known entitlement for those who have been given notice of redundancy is to use at least part of your notice looking for alternative opportunities for employment.
Whilst serving your redundancy notice, you are able to take a “reasonable” amount of time off work to do this and are entitled to pay at your normal rate, but only for 40% of your normal week’s work. If the basis for your current work is 5 days a week, for example, your employer pays you for up to 2 days works at your normal rate even though you are taking time off to explore alternative opportunities.
The thought of being made redundant in later life may initially seem scary, but there are ways you can turn the situation to your advantage.
Any data cited in this article is correct as at the time of writing.