Parents, family carers and disabled people are at least twice as likely to be made redundant than the rest of the working popuilation, according to new research by Citizens Advice.
Citizens Advice says demand for the charity’s advice on redundancy issues has increased significantly, with around one in six (17%) of the working age population currently at risk of redundancy.
The charity says that whilst the risk of redundancy is widespread across the working population, those who are in vulnerable circumstances like family carers and those with disabilities are bearing the brunt of job losses from the current crisis.
A survey of 6,000 people found that more than one in four (27%) of disabled people were facing redundancy, rising to 37% of those who said their disability has a large impact on their day-to-day life.
The research also shows that half of those who were in the shielded group (48%), as they were extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus, were at risk of losing their jobs. 39% of parents and carers were also at risk of redundancy.
Mum of one Natalie was a retail worker before being furloughed by her employer. On returning to work Natalie was told that she would be made redundant if she wasn’t able to work more flexible hours.
She told her employer this was unfair and was then asked to take a test along with other employees, after which she was made redundant.
Natalie said: “I’ve been so worried that I could lose my house as I don’t know how long it will be until I find another job. I’ve always worked and never been unemployed. This is quite a scary scenario.
“I’ve had to call my family and my ex-partner to see if they can help pay my mortgage as the thought of losing my home scares me. It would destroy me”.
Jamie McGlynn, Contact Centre Manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, said: “We’re seeing a lot of redundancy issues, but it gives you a sinking feeling when someone who’s been shielding, is a carer or has young kids tells you they’ve been picked as the first to go.
“People are absolutely wracked with worry. One lady with underlying health conditions told her employer she felt unsafe about returning to work as another worker had Covid symptoms but wasn’t isolating. The next week she had her redundancy notice through.
“We’re retraining some of our advisers on employment rights because we know what we’re seeing now could be just the tip of the iceberg.”
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Employers face difficult choices but there are worrying signs disabled workers, people who shielded, parents and carers are being pushed to the front of the queue when it comes to redundancy.
“As tough as these times are, they cannot be used as an excuse to break the rules.
“If someone is facing an unfair redundancy, the odds of getting redress under the current system are stacked against them. Workers need a watchdog that will be a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights.”