Someone else’s redundancy

Losing your job can be a devastating experience, but what if it's not you joining the Jobcentre queue, but someone close to you? Here's how to cope if your partner, relative or friend has been made redundant.

Guy looking at a sheet of paper and a woman looking upset

Someone else losing their job can be as hard as if you had

Supporting someone who’s lost their job isn’t easy, whether it’s a parent, sibling or partner. Not being in possession of a magic wand means it’s hard to see how you can help.

When they get 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.”

Sharing the burden

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.”

Getting advice when being made redundant

The person facing redundancy may need advice and support regarding their situation at work. They
will have certain rights such as receiving the right amount of redundancy pay; being given the
correct notice by their employer. Selection for redundancy must also be fair. See the Gov.UK
website for more information about a person’s rights within a redundancy situation.

If they are in a Trade Union, their Union should be able to give them advice. Otherwise they could
also contact ACAS for information and advice. You can find details of their Helpline on the ACAS

Claiming benefits

If someone close to you has lost their job, it’s important they claim any benefits they’re entitled to:

  • Their first port of call should be Jobcentre Plus
  • If they’ve got any kind of insurance, such as mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), they may need to sign on before they can make a claim
  • You can visit the Turn2us website for information and advice
    what financial help might be available after redundancy.

Dealing with deeper emotions

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.

Picture of couple by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Anne Wollenberg and David Samson

Updated on 29-Sep-2015