Losing your job
Dealing with unemployment
Losing your job isn't just about your career. It can affect your
health and relationships.
The first thing to do is sort out your finances for the next two
months. After that, you can start thinking about the longer
Look after yourself
If you're struggling after losing your job it's ok to ask for
help. Speak to family and friends about how you're feeling and
remember you can get free financial counselling for your
A useful booklet is available from Beyond Blue: Taking care of yourself
after losing your job or call 1300 224 636. If you're
feeling stressed, you might be interested in getting a free
assessment and finding out more about mental health issues from Mental Health Online.
If things are really getting on top of you, get professional
help. Ignoring the signs may only make things worse. Talk with your
GP. If you think you might hurt yourself or are having thoughts
about suicide, call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support service on 13
11 14 or try their crisis support chat service.
Know where you stand
You will feel able to make clearer decisions once you know how
much money you really have. The first steps to help you get on top
of your budget are:
- find out what you have in savings
- list every expense you'll have to meet for the next two
Include necessities like rent or mortgage payments, loans,
health care, medicines, car and home maintenance and insurance
Know where you stand financially.
To work out how long your cash will last, it's best to assume
you'll have no income for the first few weeks.
If you don't have much cash on hand and didn't get a redundancy
or termination payout, you may need emergency help immediately.
Find out where to get urgent money help.
Limit your spending
If your income drops, bite the bullet and change your spending
habits as soon as possible.
Bringing your spending into line means you may have to postpone
holidays; cut down on things like coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, pay
TV or mobile phone calls; spend more time shopping around for the
best prices; and hold back on buying clothes and eating out.
Resist the temptation to use your credit card to cover
shortfalls. The interest you'll have to pay will only add to your
financial burden in the long run.
Paying your bills
If you're having trouble paying your water, phone, gas or
electricity bills, contact your utility providers and see if you
can negotiate a better repayment arrangement. For more details see
our webpage on problems
paying your bills and council rates.
If you're struggling to pay your loans and credit cards, talk
with your credit or service provider and let them know you are
experiencing financial difficulty and ask for a hardship
variation. Taking action straight away can stop a small problem
from becoming a big one.
For general tips on keeping up with your credit card and loan
repayments, see making repayments.
Check if you're owed anything from your past job
Are you entitled to any payments from your employer? Australian
Unions may be able to provide information about your entitlements
or help you to negotiate with your employer. Read their blog or call 1300 486
If you lost your job because your employer went into liquidation
or went bankrupt, you may be able to make a claim through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee
Don't forget your super
While you are not working don't forget about your super. Check
how much you have in your super fund and think about how you can
top up your super balance when you start working again. Consider
your investment options and insurance needs and think about the
effect a break from work may have on your super balance.
Work out how taking a break from paid work will affect your
super and retirement.
If you get retrenched, you might be entitled to benefits through
your superannuation fund. You should also check whether your life
or disability insurance will continue when your employer stops
contributing, if it's through your super. Some funds allow you to
continue your insurance cover but may only give you a short
timeframe to change your arrangements.
Finding an income
Think about getting temporary or part-time work while you look
for another permanent job. Put your name down with temp agencies,
ask family and friends if they know of any jobs, or ask local
businesses if they need an extra set of hands. Visit Australian JobSearch to
see a list of job vacancies around Australia.
For more training or work experience to help you find and keep a
job, contact Job Services
Contact the Department
of Human Services to find out what government assistance you
may be entitled to. Some benefits have waiting periods, so contact
the department as soon as you can. Your reduced income might mean
you're eligible for the Family Tax Benefit - or a bigger benefit
You can also get free help from the Department of Human
Financial Information Service (FIS) officers and social
workers, or attend a FIS seminar
held in your local area on redundancy and financial
A redundancy is when your employer terminates your employment
because they either decide that your job is no longer needed, or
they become insolvent or bankrupt. You will usually receive a
redundancy payment, which will have rate of tax applied that's
lower than your marginal tax rate.
A redundancy package will include a redundancy or severance
payment and your unused annual leave and long service leave. It may
also include a payment in lieu of notice and a 'golden handshake'
or other incentive payment.
A redundancy package includes your unused annual leave and long
service leave. Accrued sick leave or personal leave is not usually
paid out to you when you leave an organisation.
If your employer has gone into administration or liquidation and
you are owed entitlements after losing your job, you may be able to
get financial help from the Australian Government through the Fair Entitlements
For more information on the tax rates of a redundancy package
see the Australian Taxation Office's redundancy
Some insurers offer redundancy insurance as optional cover on income
protection policies. Redundancy insurance can provide
short-term financial assistance if you lose your job
Managing your payout
Unless you are retiring, your payout will have to last you until
you get another job, and this may take longer than you think.
Prepare an emergency budget to get a clear idea of your ongoing
expenses and bills, and how you will pay them without a regular
If you have received a large payout, you could:
Then you can draw the money down slowly to cover your ongoing
Paying down debt is a great idea when you have a new job to go
to, but first find out what waiting periods (if any) will apply
before you can access unemployment benefits. Make sure you can
cover your expenses for this period before making extra repayments
on your debts.
Losing your job can be a very stressful
experience. Prepare a budget, find ways to cut back on your
spending and always ask for help - both financial and emotional -
if you need it.
Last updated: 23 Jan 2019