Since lockdown began, many employees have been furloughed and have had financial support from the Government. But many have fallen through the cracks.
Lauren, who is in her late 20s and lives in London, was offered a new job in February this year – but due to lockdown, it ended up falling through: “I was offered a new job in February this year, served my two month’s notice only to have my job offer withdrawn due to the lockdown and loss of clients.”
The timing and long notice period, therefore, meant that she wasn’t eligible for the furlough scheme and “when I asked my previous employer he said they had a hiring freeze and so would not re-employ me to put me on furlough.”
For a while since, Lauren has found it “really hard looking for work”. She’s now starting to get responses, but a lot of people are in the same boat: “for the first month or so I think everyone was just finding their feet and working out how to hire from home and if they needed anyone, and I’m only now starting to get many responses, but it is so competitive as so many people are in a similar position or have been made redundant.”
Lauren managed to “argue my way to get my week’s notice from the company that withdrew the job offer”, but is frustrated that it had to be that way. Whilst “the extra money has been a blessing”, it hasn’t been enough for her in the long run: “it hasn’t done much to alleviate the sudden unemployment and covered 2 weeks of rent…3 months ago.”
Despite the adversity, Lauren has hope, and can see a positive future for the workplace when she eventually gets a job: “I’m excited that of the conversations with companies for a new role I have had, most of them have suggested that they are going to continue flexible working with only a few days in the office.” She has recognised throughout this time period that employers may now have a different perspective than they did before: “I think this is really good for workers as it has shown employers that people don’t necessarily need to be in the same room or commute to get work done.”
It’s important to recognise, however, that this isn’t the first time Lauren has been through a difficult time with employment: “this is the second time in 4 years that I have been laid off with only 1 weeks notice and it just doesn’t give enough protection when people have rent to pay.” So she has her own idea of how the Government could help to prevent other people from going through the same thing: “I would personally like if employment law could institute a minimum notice period for employers for new starters.”
Lauren’s story is a reminder that as we enter the deepest UK recession on record, many people have already become unemployed, and there will be many more to follow. But as we can see from Lauren’s experience, there are tough times ahead – it’s vital that throughout this period and beyond, people up and down the UK have the financial support they need to live on, for their security.