What to do if you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19 lockdown

A man in deep thought after he lost a job. A HuffPost photo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on workers. Millions of people around the world are losing their jobs as businesses operations are scaled down to the barest minimum or completely shut down.

Uganda is not spared. In fact, Ugandan workers are in a more precarious situation. This is because a huge part of its economy is informal, with most of the workers being daily wagers.

As the lockdown continues, workers find themselves stuck at home with absolutely no idea when this will all end. Some have lost their jobs permanently while some have been temporarily laid off.

Those who have already lost their jobs are presented with a double whammy: the prospect of catching the dreaded corona virus and agony of loss of livelihood.

If you have lost your job, what should you do during this lockdown?  The following suggestions, adopted from Enterpreneur Daily, may be worth sharing.

1. Keep communication lines with your former employer open, remain realistic.

Nobody knows when this will all end. Try to find out how committed your employer is to let you return if things improve. While you are at it, review your contract terms carefully. Has your employer followed established severance terms? Don’t fear to ask whether your layoff was legal.

If there is a possibility of returning to work, make critical considerations of the timeline. It will help you to budget your time and financial resources realistically.

2. Look for and find a support network. You will need it?

Find out about any from a government program. Make sure you don’t miss out on registration for any relief supplies in your neighbourhood from government or any other designated agency.

Currently, Local council officials are registering residents in anticipation of government support. Call your friends to find out what support programs they may know from their own neighbourhoods then crosscheck with your local authorities just to confirm if they have not just left you out.  

3. Keep your cool; remain professional.  

When this is all over, businesses and jobs will be back. So, watch what you do and how you conduct yourself during this lockdown.  

Avoid negative posts on social media. Don’t gossip about your former employers in your chat groups. You don’t know whether your next employer is a member of that group.

People will judge you by your conduct during difficult times. Your constructive views could earn you your next job.

If your layoff is temporary, make sure you have effective communication with members of your team.

4. Manage stress for good mental health.

Design exercise routines to do around your home/apartment. Don’t keep indoors all the time; make sure you go out of the house to get enough fresh air.

If you have young children, this is the time to rediscover your childhood. Run around, jump, sing, play board games with the kids. Of course, don’t forget to apportion time to supervise their “holiday work”.

This is also an opportune time to focus on your relationship with your spouse. Keep in mind a number of friends you can easily reach for advice or help.

These activities will have a calming effect when you settle down later to think about your next employment or career move after the lockdown.

5. Adjust your budget accordingly

Reduce waste, focus on the barest minimum to survive. Kids may not like it but make a tight budget and stick to it. You never know how long you will be without a job as long as the covid-19 uncertainties remain.

Look for all avenues to cut expenses. For example, reduce phone related expenses. Look for the cheapest voice and data packages. If it means going down to two meals per day, please do to buy time as you try to work your next move.

6. Suspend long term goals

It is not a good idea to pursue long term projects now, especially if it involves a big commitment of your savings. Nobody knows exactly the nature and magnitude of the fall-out from this pandemic.

Things can get a lot worse but they can also get back to normal pretty fast. The focus should be on what to do now and how to survive the next month. Make short term plans to avoid being overwhelmed by the rapidly changing situation we now find ourselves in.

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