Losing your job is always an uncomfortable and unsettling experience – but in this heightened time of a global pandemic, the ramifications of job loss may hit your finances, household and lifestyle even harder.
If your employer closes or loses business because of COVID-19, there’s an unfortunately high chance that retrenchment may begin to occur. As expected, losing your job and having your income reduced can cause a significant amount of personal, emotional and mental distress.
However, there are a number of steps that you can take to find support in this troubling time. Read on to learn more about available legal aid, and helpful ways local businesses and the community can help you get back on your feet during this global pandemic.
Lost Your Job Because Of COVID-19?
If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19, there are a number of financial support initiatives available from the Australian Government. It’s important to do your research and understand which of these payment plans apply to you and your workplace’s circumstances.
The Australian Government announced on the 30th March 2020 that those who have lost their job or shifts may be eligible for payments of $1,500 from their employer. This is labelled the JobKeeper payment, and may be a relevant pathway that doesn’t involve retrenchment from your employer.
The JobSeeker payment (which was formerly known as Newstart) is for those who are unemployed or do not have enough work. The payment is approximately $565 per fortnight.
The Coronavirus supplement is due to begin on April 27th, and applies to those who have lost their job as a result of COVID-19. If you are eligible for this payment, you could receive $1,100 a fortnight.
You can also remove up to $10,000 from your superannuation, tax-free – just make sure you’re aware of what this means for your future superannuation if you choose this route.
Transition Support Network
The Australian Government has formed a transition support network comprised of representatives from the Department of Education, Skills and Employments. The network assists retrenched workers to find a new job as soon as possible.
The network also works to help employers through the retrenchment process – including providing vital information about how they can provide their employees with the support they need.
If you wish to seek support from the network, contact the Employment Services Information Line on 1800 805 260 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. After you reach out, a provider will assess your circumstances in detail and work with you to help you re-enter the workforce as soon as possible.
If you’d rather seek more general questions about your dismissal and/or retrenchment, the WhatsNext? website is a helpful resource that offers resources and information for recently retrenched workers about finding work, financial assistance and self-care during this time of transition.
The WhatsNext? website also has great resources for recently retrenched workers who wish to try something different. There are training opportunities, start-up business help, and volunteering options available to peruse in case you’d like to take some time before jumping back into the job search.
Reducing Regular Expenses
While searching for appropriate financial aid and your next employment opportunity, it’s a good idea to reduce your recurring expenses where possible. Banks, landlords and utility providers are offering various amounts of financial relief, so it’s a good idea to create a list of your regular expenses, and contact these providers to discuss your circumstances.
State and territory governments are moving to place a temporary ban on evictions for commercial and residential tenancies for 6 months, so it’s important to stay aware and knowledgeable of these bans that could impact your due payments in the coming months.
Mental Health Support
During this challenging time, it’s important to ensure you’re taking after not only your finances, but your mental health. Those who are experiencing sudden unemployment may be feeling highly distressed, so it is important to take stock and take care of your mental wellbeing for your own benefit and happiness.
There are a wealth of resources online that provide techniques and tips for looking after your mental health, including Heads Up, Beyond Blue – and if you need help with mental health with regards to your financial situation, the National Debt Helpline which offers free financial counselling.
A few valuable tips from these websites include being patient with yourself – as recovery from such a significant personal and global setback takes time, getting support from family members and loved ones, being selective about which news you consume (and how much of it), staying healthy with a balanced diet and moderate exercise, and talking to your GP if you have a pre-existing medical condition that may be aggravated by stress.
Eligibility For Legal Aid
If you lose your job in unfair circumstances, you may be eligible to receive legal aid to make a claim under Australian employment laws. Generally speaking, unfair circumstances during COVID-19 could mean that your employment is terminated when your job is not genuinely redundant but you are stood down regardless.
There are strict timeframes in which you can start a claim for unfair dismissal or unlawful termination of employment. If you think your employer has done the wrong thing, act quickly and seek legal advice as soon as possible.
For unfair dismissal or unlawful termination, claims to the Fair Work Commission must be made within 21 days from the date of dismissal. The application fee for the claim may be waived if the payment would cause financial hardship – this exception will be made under the discretion of the Fair Work Commission.
Here at Legal Pathways, we know how important it is to handle unfair dismissals during this difficult time with the discretion, respect, and urgency they often require. Our team of first-class lawyers have extensive courtroom experience, and are devoted to providing a professional, intelligent and cost-effective legal service for each and every client.