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Losing your job

How to cope with being unexpectedly unemployed

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Losing your job can be a shock and can mean big changes to your lifestyle. But there are steps you can take to manage your money and find support.

If you've lost your job because of COVID-19

The Government has announced new financial assistance available to workers who have been impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The Fair Work Ombudsman also has helpful information on your workplace entitlements and obligations if your work has been impacted by coronavirus.

Know what you're entitled to

When you lose your job, you may be entitled to final payments. Check your contract or ask your employer if you're entitled to redundancy or retrenchment payments, or annual leave and long service payouts.

The Fair Work Ombudsman website has information on ending your employment, including what you're entitled to in your final pay

Use the Fair Work Ombudsman's Notice and Redundancy Calculator to work out what you're entitled to when your employment ends.

Check your insurance and super

If you have life insurance, check your policy for redundancy insurance. Some policies have an option for income protection. This can provide short-term financial assistance if you lose your job.

Also check if you have income protection with your super fund. Some super funds also let you to access your super early if you're experiencing severe financial hardship. See early access to your super on the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for more information.

Get financial help if you need it

It can be a tough time when you lose your job, but there are ways to get help.

Help from the government

Check if you can get any payments or benefits from Centrelink while you're looking for a new job. You may be able to get the JobSeeker Payment.

The Services Australia has information on what you can do if you’ve lost your job.

Urgent help

If you're in crisis or struggling to make ends meet, see urgent help with money for a list of services to help you with food, housing and bills, as well as emotional support.

Help with bills or mortgage

If you're finding it hard to pay your utility bills or mortgage, contact your service provider or bank. They might extend the due date, let you make smaller repayments over a longer period or postpone your repayments for an agreed period.

For credit cards and loans, let your credit or service provider know you're experiencing financial difficulty and ask for a hardship variation.

For step-by-step help, see:

Plan your money for the next few months

To help you manage while you’re out of work, get a clear picture of how much money you have. Also work out how much you'll need over the next few months.

Make a list of:

  • your savings
  • other income, for example, government benefits or payments, or income from investments
  • lump sum payments, for example, long service leave or redundancy payouts
  • your expenses, including rent or mortgage payments, bills, loan repayments, health care, car and grocery costs, and insurance premiums

Use this list to see if there are any expenses you could cut back on or live without. Managing on a low income has helpful tips for coping with less money.

See a financial counsellor

If you need a hand to manage your money, see a free financial counsellor. They can help you review your budget and debts, and find ways to improve your situation.

Look after yourself

It's okay to ask for help during this time. Talk to friends and family about how you're feeling.

Beyond Blue has useful information about how to cope. See their eight tips for looking after yourself through unemployment.

You can call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 to talk to someone (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Look for a new job or career

When you're ready to start thinking about and looking for a new job, visit the Australian Government's What's Next website. It has helpful information on where to get support, where to look for a new job, and training opportunities.