Parents, carers and disabled twice as likely to face redundancy
Those in more vulnerable circumstances such as those who previously shielded and whose disability impacts their day-to-day lives are likely to bear the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey of 6,000 people by charity Citizens Advice revealed that one in four disabled people were facing redundancy, rising to 37% of those whose lives are more impacted by their disability.
Half of those in the shielding group, ie those who are extremely clinically vulnerable to coronavirus, were at risk of losing their job.
And two in five parents were also in the firing line.
The survey comes as Citizens Advice said demand for its redundancy help pages have leapt seven-fold amid the health crisis.
In one case seen, working mum Natalie was told she would be made redundant after returning from furlough as she wasn’t able to work more flexible hours after previously working shifts around childcare.
She 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.”
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-19 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.”
All workers are protected by law against discrimination. But at the moment workers have no guarantee these laws will be enforced, Citizens Advice said.
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.”