Media Clinic: What help is available when you’re facing redundancy?

THE other week, the allmediascotland Media Clinic posed a question for Scotland’s media community to help answer – not knowing the news that was to break a couple of days ago from BBC Scotland, about proposed job cuts.

Three answers were received.

The question was: What help is available when you’re facing redundancy?

The answers offered – for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice – come from (1) Calum MacLean, national manager of PACE, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment, (2) Bob Dow, former Daily Record reporter and now group communications manager at ANM Group Ltd and (3) Lucy Haughey, founder of PlanB Partnership, a Glasgow-based social enterprise – specialising in providing financial support to people facing redundancy – set up after she was made redundant while expecting her third child.

(1) PACE is a free, Scottish Government initiative that allows people facing redundancy to speak face-to-face with someone who can support them with their next steps.

PACE is delivered by Skills Development Scotland, with input from others including Jobcentre Plus, Citizens Advice Scotland and Business Gateway.

PACE advisers can help you search for vacancies in your field or discover how your skills might be applicable to other roles.

Redundancy is a difficult prospect but it can also provide an opportunity to retrain, become self-employed or explore a new career. PACE advisers are aware of the many different issues that may arise when handling redundancies.

PACE advisers can help you:

* understand the redundancy process, as well as your rights and entitlements;

* get a better idea of your options and the opportunities available to you;

* check which benefits you may be entitled to and review your tax calculations;

* look for jobs;

* put together CVs, application forms and cover letters;

* prepare for interviews;

* look into starting your own business;

* manage your finances;

* find support with reading, writing and numbers; and

* cope with redundancy-related stress.

For more information on redundancy, click here or call the Scottish redundancy support helpline on 0808 100 1855 for free, impartial advice.

(2) When I was made redundant after almost 20 years at the Daily Record, the best advice came from an old pro who simply said: “Remember, redundancy is just a word, not a sentence.” He was right.

Don’t look back and use all your contacts and anything else you can get your hands on to get right back on your feet.

Having been in the NUJ for more than 30 years, they were great with advice and support, especially with a range of courses to help old hacks like me learn the skills required to move into New Media and PR.

(3) Assuming the employer wishes to do the ‘right thing’ by its members of staff it has earmarked for redundancy, it can hire in an external agency which can mediate the process and provide advice on what impact redundancy might have on the likes of pensions. Or it can invite us in, for free.

It’s important staff are not advised simply to search online for financial or debt advice. Make sure that any financial advice – for instance, mortgage payments, savings plans, etc – is provided by someone who is registered with the Financial Services Authority.

It is important too that any debt advice is provided by an advisor who has a Consumer Credit Licence.

The sooner affected staff inform their creditors of their situation, the easier it should be to come up with a more manageable solution.

The more the employer provides support, the less staff are likely to feel embittered or litigious.

PlanB Partnership can provide advice on:

* pensions (unfreezing, re-investing, new plans and cashing in);

* debt and insolvency;

* insurances (creating new and claiming on income protection, life, health, home, car and others);

* investments (if staff have a ‘package’ or redundancy award to invest or save);

* budgeting, cost cutting and full financial reviews; and

* mortgages ( including re-mortgages or general advice on mortgage contracts or reviews).

Our next question for the Media Clinic is: I’m a freelance photographer who has to constantly travel around the country. My old banger is unlikely to last another winter so I am thinking of replacing it. A friend has suggested that, from a business perspective (I trade as a limited company), I’d be better off with a low-emission vehicle. Does anyone know if this is the case and why I’d be better off?

If you would like to suggest an answer – in the spirit of camaraderie – please do send it to us, here, for possible publication on Monday, September 10.