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 2
months. After that, you can start thinking about the longer
Look after yourself
Research shows that job or financial loss can increase the risk
of health problems such as anxiety or depression. Signs you may not
be coping include:
- Sleeping badly
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs more than before you
lost your job
Talk about issues with your family and friends - don't
bottle things up. If you have emotional support, you'll be better
able to deal with the financial consequences of unemployment. You
can get free financial counselling for
your money problems.
A useful booklet is available from Beyond Blue: Taking care of yourself
after retrenchment or financial loss 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 disorders from
Mental Health Online.
If things are really getting on top of you, it's best to 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. Find out what you have in savings, then
list every expense you'll have to meet for the next 2 months. Use
our budget planner and include necessities like mortgage payments,
loans, health care, medicines, car and home maintenance and
To work out how long your cash will last, it's best to assume
you'll have no income for the first few weeks.
Limit your spending
If your income drops, bite the bullet and change your spending
habits as soon as possible. These cutbacks may be hard but,
remember, they are probably temporary.
Bringing your spending into line will mean changing your habits
and plans. 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.
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 486 466.
If you lost your job because your employer went into liquidation
or went bankrupt from 5 December 2012, then you may be able to make
a claim through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee
If your employer's insolvency or bankruptcy happened before 5
December 2012, then you may be able to make a claim for any unpaid
employee entitlements through the General
Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS). For more
information about FEG or GEERS you can also call 1300 135 040.
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 use our career break super
calculator to see the effect a break from work may have on your
If you don't have much cash on hand and didn't get a redundancy
or termination payout, you may need emergency help immediately. It
can be hard to ask for help if you're used to being independent.
But emergency help will ensure you don't fall behind on your
mortgage or rent, or bills for essentials like electricity and
water. To find out more see our urgent money help webpage.
Get back on your feet
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 Australia.
Talk to 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.
You can also get free help from the Department of Human
Services' Financial Information
Service (FIS) officers and social workers, or attend a FIS seminar held in your local area
on retrenchment and financial issues.
Finally, your reduced income might mean you're eligible for the
Family Tax Benefit - or a bigger benefit payment. Contact the
Department of Human
Services to find out.
Super for the short and long run
If you get retrenched, you might be entitled to benefits through
your superannuation fund.
If your super includes your life or disability insurance, also
check whether that will continue when your employer stops
contributing. Some funds allow you to continue your insurance cover
but may only give you a short timeframe to change your
Talk to your lenders
Do you have a serious budget shortfall? Talk to your bank
and any other organisation you owe money to. Contact them as soon
as you can, especially if the lender has security over your home,
car or other assets. Tell them you're having financial difficulties
and want to discuss repayment arrangements.
If you can't agree on a new repayment arrangement with your
credit provider, or want more information about speaking to
household utility providers (for gas, phone, water and
electricity), read about hardship variations on trouble with
For general tips on keeping up with your bills, see making
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: 15 Jul 2015
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