Bustle UK has switched up its regular money series How I Made It Work, to better reflect the uncertain financial times caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of women who've achieved financial stability discussing the lessons they've learnt, each piece focuses on a woman who has had her financial situation transformed by the outbreak in the UK. They'll share what their new working life looks like and how (if at all) they're making it work.
This time, HIMIW hears from a 22-year-old woman who found a job at Asda after losing her zero-hours contract role at a holiday camp.
Location: Rhyl, North Wales
Occupation: Before the outbreak I worked as an arcade attendant on a busy holiday camp. I now work at Asda as an online shopper, so I pick people’s online shopping orders [out from the shop] and pack them.
What was your working life like before the coronavirus outbreak?
Before the outbreak I worked on a busy holiday camp and had been there for a year. I worked days and evenings and did around 35+ hours per week. I was on minimum wage at £7.70 per hour. I had lots of great friends and generally enjoyed my time at work.
How has the coronavirus outbreak changed your working life?
On March 19, I received the news the holiday park was closing due to the outbreak. As I was on a zero-hour contract I was told I would not be paid and this was also the case for many other staff. The company I worked for laid everyone off (so I received a p45). I was quite shocked at this as I thought they would at least keep my job open so I could go straight back once this was all over. I must admit I panicked and it was a very stressful day.
Thankfully, I messaged somebody I knew that worked at my local Asda (literally two minutes' walk away). She said If I was to call the store and mention her name, I would more than likely get an interview. I did this and I was told to take my passport in the same day. I started work at Asda on the following Monday as an online shopper. I now work very early mornings (2 a.m. to 8 a.m.) five days a week. It's not particularly great for my sleeping pattern or mental health but, other than the start time, I generally enjoy the role.
I was told I could apply for universal credit, however — because of my age it — it would have only been £251 per month
How has the coronavirus outbreak changed your financial situation?
Before the outbreak I was on minimum wage — £7.70 per hour. At Asda I am now on £9 an hour! And I get paid for 27.5 hours per week with the option to do additional overtime, which was never the case at my previous job. I am having to wait five weeks to receive my first wages so at the moment it’s a struggle.
Has the government made financial support available to people in your industry or situation?
I heard of Hospitality Action giving out grants to people that had worked in hospitality [and lost their jobs], however this was subject to availability and the demand was high so I missed out. I was told I could apply for universal credit, however — because of my age — it would have only been £251 per month, and this would not cover my outgoings.
Do you feel government measures have been sufficient for people in your industry or situation?
I feel the government are doing well with the 80% [job retention] scheme, however I was not entitled to this due to being on a zero hour contract and the company I worked for laying employees off.
How are you managing the change in financial circumstances?
I have had to cut back on shopping, but things haven’t been too badly affected because of the shutdown (we can’t go anywhere to spend money anyway). However, it is my partner's birthday soon and I would have struggled to afford to buy him a gift, so I ordered online with Very so I could pay in instalments.
I have decided not to go back to my old job when this is over, as I am frankly quite disgusted with how the employees were treated
What would help you feel more secure financially during the outbreak?
I feel more help for those on zero hour contracts would be beneficial and possibly more access to grants/loans with low interest rates.
How do you feel the coronavirus outbreak will affect your working life more long term?
I have decided not to go back to my old job when this is over, as I am frankly quite disgusted with how the employees were treated at my old company. I have been told there could be a possibility to stay on permanently at Asda, however this is not guaranteed.
Do you think your experiences during the coronavirus outbreak will change your approach to your working life in the future?
I have thought more about my long term career goals and hopefully I will never have to work a zero hour contract job again as it is so unpredictable.
Do you think your experiences during the coronavirus outbreak will have an impact on your relationship with money?
I have decided to open a savings account, so if I ever found myself out of work again I will have some money to fall back on.