Dealing with job loss in Qatar; One step at a time
Lynne-Ann Abrahams lost her job earlier this year. She shares her learning on what one must do to move from crisis to control.
I spent my first three years in Doha as an English teacher. The salary was low but there was a relative sense of job security and I would always listen on nervously as the engineers and managers in my circle of friends spoke about downsizing, termination and retrenchment. Earlier this year, I secured a higher paying job in a small government programme. Five months later my position was made redundant with immediate effect.
In the weeks that followed I experienced a range of conflicting emotions from denial to anger to disappointment.
“Retrenchment is ranked one of the most stressful life experiences alongside divorce and the loss of a loved one,” says Carol Scahill, a mental health care specialist. “People tend to focus on the practicalities of being without a job and overlook the emotional impact it may have.”
I went into crisis mode and started an aggressive job hunt. Below are a few things I reckon anyone facing retrenchment should know:
Finance: First things first
Establish whether your company will provide an NOC for sponsorship transfer. Negotiate the timeframes. If you have a loan or credit card your final salary and settlement will go towards clearing outstanding balances. Once the HR informs the bank of your termination (this is mandatory), your accounts will be frozen immediately.
Your monthly credit card or loan repayments most likely include payment for an insurance policy that covers retrenchment. The bank will submit the paperwork on your behalf, but its worth knowing that each case is assessed by the insurance company first and this process may take 6-8 weeks. In this time your accounts will remain frozen.
“In reality the bank does not treat retrenchment any differently to dismissal or resignation,” comments one engineer who was retrenched last year. “Though an involuntary event, your financial obligations are the same.”
9 things to keep in mind
- Ask your HR to give you some time before informing the bank especially if your dismissal was immediate.
- Call the bank and discuss whether you have any options to access your funds especially if you intend to stay in Qatar and find a new position.
- Draw up a budget and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to use shopping as therapy. But give yourself the occasional treat to keep up your spirits. Go out with friends as usual but keep within that tight budget.
- If your HR or line manager has offered to circulate your CV through her network, take up the offer.
- Talk to a professional if you find yourself struggling emotionally. Maintain a routine; wake up early, shower, dress properly and head to a coffee shop with your laptop. Send out CVs, do follow up calls.
- Don’t withdraw from your family and friends.
- Request an exit interview with your manager to talk over your performance.
- Keep in touch with your former colleagues but don’t be drawn into the office politics that may follow a round of retrenchments. Don’t engage in malicious gossip about your former colleagues or manager.
- Decide how and when you will explain the retrenchment to interviewers. There’s a chance others in the industry will know if your previous company was retrenching and why.
You will probably ask yourself “what if?” more than once and have personal regrets. Extract the positives and negatives from an experience like this and keep your eyes on the future.
Lynne-Ann Abrahams is from Cape Town, South Africa. She came to Qatar four years ago to teach English and now works full time as a technical writer. Lynne continues to write fiction and her main project at present is a crime fiction novel set in post-apartheid South Africa.
We address various aspects of Working in Qatar in this series, including finance, laws, HR development. Write to us if there is a particular subject you are interested in and would like to read about.