Written by Bethany-Rose Turner, 23.
2020 has been a pretty unpredictable and crazy year. So far, the world has experienced tragic bushfires, a worldwide pandemic, a global revolution with the Black Lives Matter movement and an invasion of ‘murder hornets’ - who knows what may happen next? It seems so strange that only a few months ago we were all wishing each other happy new year and making plans for the months ahead, looking back, how naive that all seems.
It was confusing to be furloughed at first and made me question my worth within the company I worked for
I think we can safely say that Covid-19 has proven to be a shitshow (to put it lightly) from the beginning. One of the things affecting a lot of people as a result of the virus, myself included, is the government's ‘job retention scheme’ known as ‘furlough’. It was confusing to be furloughed at first and made me question my worth within the company I worked for - was my role really that insignificant that I wasn’t needed? Did my employer think less of me than my colleagues? The reasoning behind it wasn’t explained to me very well, all I knew was that I was being ‘furloughed’.
After getting over the initial confusion, furlough was great. I was receiving 80% of my wage and was prohibited from doing any work for the company during that time, which meant I had all the time in the world to catch up on some life admin and basically everything else I didn’t have time to fit around a full-time job. After the mandatory minimum of three weeks leave, I received an email from my employer informing me that they had decided to extend my furlough for another three weeks, which of course, was fine by me!
Turns out I needn’t have worried about returning back to work, I had been made redundant
At the time of being furloughed, I was assured that I wouldn’t be losing my job and that I still very much had a role to come back to within the company, so I plodded along happily, focusing on my personal blog, completing the online courses I had filed away for ‘one day when I’ve got time’ and dreading the day I would eventually have to go back to work when the lockdown was eventually lifted. Fast forward through eight weeks of leave and I find myself back in the unemployment line at 23. Turns out I needn’t have worried about returning back to work, I had been made redundant.
Initially, it came as quite a shock to me that it was happening, after all, I was assured I still had a job and was told not to worry about redundancy when this all started. In hindsight, I probably should have got that in writing!
I had years of experience under my belt and never once turned down a shift, yet, I was let go
When it comes to redundancy, this isn’t my first rodeo. My first ever job was working as a technician in my local theatre. I loved that job, In fact, It’s the only job I’ve ever truly enjoyed. Being a musical theatre kid, working in a theatre was all I ever really wanted to do. I would constantly work overtime, picking up any and all shifts I could get my hands on! I eventually transitioned over to the front of house team and enjoyed every single second I spent in that theatre. 5 years down the line, a new management team took over the theatre and the word redundancy started flying around. I thought I was safe. I was qualified in the field, I had years of experience under my belt and never once turned down a shift, yet, I was let go. That was my first experience with redundancy, I was 19 and it was a huge slap to the face.
My second encounter with redundancy came in 2018 in my job as a Library assistant, only a year after being made redundant from the theatre. I’m a bookworm by nature so getting to spend my day sorting books was a dream! Again, a new company took over the management of the library from the local council and the possibility of redundancies was announced. I was prepared this time and immediately started looking for a new job just in case. I actually ended up falling into my first full-time job working in marketing for the same company my partner worked for and opted for voluntary redundancy in this instance. Myself and my partner could commute together to save money on fuel and the job had a great salary to boot! Life was great, I now had a stable job and a steady income.
And now I’m here, two years later in 2020 and it’s all gone a bit tits up! It’s disheartening to be job hunting again at the age of 23. Everyone says ‘but you’re so young, you’ve got plenty of time!’ and in a way they’re right, but the fact that I’m young doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities like everyone else. I have rent, bills to pay, a family to provide for and an upcoming wedding to pay off, not to mention the fact that I had just started saving to buy my first house and now the situation I find myself in has jeopardised everything.
It’s time to find work that I enjoy again and a job that needs me
So, the job retention scheme, in my case, has not enabled me to retain my job, failing to provide the outcome that the scheme itself was set up to do. In my vaguely educated opinion, employers are taking advantage of the scheme and claiming money from the government, only to lay off their staff in the end anyway. Part of me thinks that employers who do this should have to pay the money back to the government as they have gone against everything the schemes stand for in doing so, but the other part of me knows this would never happen. Just as the government finally does something genuine for the benefit of the people in the UK, there’s always those that have to go and spoil it.
I’m not sure what the future holds for me now, it’s a really bad time to be looking for employment because of the sheer number of others doing the same! Roughly 8.9 Million people have been furloughed with more and more people being made redundant every day. I’ve been really lucky to have already received a couple of job offers, neither are full-time work, or on par with the salary I was previously getting, but at the moment, I’ll take what I can get. On the bright side, I suppose this is a fresh start for me. I now have the opportunity to explore other avenues and perhaps even return to education part-time and find my forte. It’s time to find work that I enjoy again and a job that needs me.
Redundancies suck, but if there’s a silver lining to be found in these situations, It’s the idea of new possibilities and a fresh start.