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COVID, Cheese And The Jobs Market…The Link?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

This year has seen the goalposts moved so often and so far that they may as well be on a different playing field.

COVID equals uncertainty. Generally, people don’t like uncertainty – it affects peoples’ outlook, it affects the economy and it affects our overall state of mind. This can be seen clearly in some segments of the jobs market, ultimately leading to redundancies and “down-sizing”.

Where does cheese come in to this? It’s about accepting and acknowledging change as highlighted in a well known book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson – credited as “an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life”

What can you do to soften the blow?

It’s not all bad news. Statistics from* show that Northamptonshire is bucking the UK trend with vacancies down only 38% on last year – that sounds a lot but when compared with the UK (down 47%), paints a slightly more positive picture.

Depending on your background and the type of role, there is some more good(ish) news. The top 5 job categories with the most new vacancies posted last week in Northamptonshire on were:

  1. Loading and stocking
  2. Driving
  3. Social care
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Cleaning

Northamptonshire is home to a large number of logistics and supply operations. Given the demand for online purchasing, it’s not surprising loading and stocking is at the top of the list with driving second.

However, redundancies across the country are inevitable; just last week ACAS, CBI and TUC issued a joint statement recommending 5 key principles are adopted to ensure a fair redundancy process. (Read article on 28 September)

Practical Steps

If redundancy strikes, you may feel angry, let-down, cast aside, worry that it’s somehow your fault for not “being good enough” (when the reality is, it’s basic economics). There are organisations that are well placed to help people deal with the emotional rollercoaster of going through redundancy – seek them out.

Even when a fair process is followed losing your job can be a devastating blow. But there are steps you can take to soften the blow:-

Talk to someone – let loved ones know you are worried and discuss what (if anything) you can do, and how you might cope if it happens;

  1. Know your rights –employers have to follow strict procedures before making redundancies. This includes consulting with affected employees and ensuring the process is fair and objective. Knowledge is power – knowing your rights helps you take back some control;
  2. Check your contract of employment – this frequently contains clauses that provide you with protection or explain how much compensation you might be entitled to – notice pay is payable to employees even if they do not have two years’ service with their employer;
  3. Investigate other roles in your organisation that you could do – employers have an obligation to try to find you alternative work in the business if they can;
  4. Think about whether you would take voluntary redundancy if it was offered – knowing what you might be entitled to financially can help you to decide whether to put yourself forward;
  5. Take advice – there can be ways to challenge redundancy decisions made by employers or to structure payments so that they are as tax efficient as possible (and so more beneficial to you);
  6. Plan your finances – The redundancy payment may be a welcome lump sum and the catalyst for you to take a fresh look at things. On the other hand, you may be worried that you will not be able to pay your bills.
  7. Either way, start planning sooner rather than later and look at what benefits, if any you might be entitled to claim;
  8. Look at other vacancies – finding out what other jobs are out there can help you to start thinking about what you might do next, and gives back a sense of control.

If you do find yourself in this position and want help with understanding your rights and/or challenging decisions, talk to us. We’re here to listen, and to help. You’ll get a free initial telephone consultation with a solicitor within our Employment Law team and we’ll do our best to set your mind at rest, or at least to take away some of the worry.

For further advice or information please contact the Employment team on 0800 088 6004.

*Statistics taken from as of 25th September based against 2019.


Jennie Jahina


Jennie Jahina


Jennie is a Partner and Head of the Employment team.  A member of the Employment Lawyers Association, Jennie has 21 years’ experience and is an accredited CEDR Mediator. She acts for private sector organisations ranging from SMEs to multi-national companies and public sector organisations.