Research from the Citizens Advice Bureau has found that parents, carers and disabled people are at least twice as likely to face redundancy due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A survey of 6,000 people conducted by the organisation found that nearly two in five parents and carers (39%) were being laid off, as were 27% of people with disabilities, rising to 37% if their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life.
Nearly half – 48% – of shielded workers classified as extremely clinically vulnerable to the virus faced losing their jobs.
This compares to the much lower rate of redundancy across the whole working population of 17%.
This comes as demand for the charity’s advice on redundancy selection has increased almost seven-fold.
Jamie McGlynn, Contact Centre Manager at Citizens Advice Manchester, said: “People are absolutely wracked with worry. One lady with underlying health conditions told her employer she felt unsafe about returning to work as another worker had Covid symptoms but wasn’t isolating. The next week she had her redundancy notice through.
“We’re retraining some of our advisers on employment rights because we know what we’re seeing now could be just the tip of the iceberg.”
Indeed, discrimination law exists to try and curb disproportionate redundancies of disabled workers, but Citizens Advice warned that breaches of this law may be rife in this climate yet go unnoticed, as there is no national body to enforce employment law.
Already, the redundancy rights pages of the body’s website have seen traffic increase seven-fold as workers try to understand if their employer is following the rules.
“As tough as these times are, they cannot be used as an excuse to break the rules,” Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Dame Gillian Guy, said.
“If someone is facing an unfair redundancy, the odds of getting redress under the current system are stacked against them. Workers need a watchdog that will be a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights.”