#IamEssential: Working two jobs as a single mom and getting laid off
Hundreds of people are losing their jobs to COVID19 every day. Through #IamEssential, we are sharing experiences of people who recently lost their job and how they’re navigating the situation.
Chiamaka, a Telesales rep living in Lagos, was laid off in April. Here, she shared her experience and how she cares for her daughter amidst the struggle.
Hi Chiamaka, tell us more about you
I used to work at a Lending Financial Institution in Lagos. I worked in Telesales, where leads that are generated from online adverts are assigned to me. When I get these leads, my job was to follow up with these potential clients via emails, calls, or Whatsapp to get them to process their loan applications. At this place, I equally served as a customer service rep.
Two jobs, one company, interesting. How did this help you manage your finances before the pandemic?
I spent mostly on transportation, feeding, self-care, my daughter’s education, our health, and household bills like gas, electricity, and internet. It’s harder to describe this in percentages because my salary was tied to performance. Like this; every month I get a 60% basic, this was my standard pay and the remaining 40% was strictly calculated based on my performance. How many loans I was able to sell determined my performance for the month.
How did unemployment kick in?
My company shut down a week before the President declared the lockdown. Before that, we were already asked to indicate if we could and are willing to work from home. It is a company of about 35 staff but my director was not taking chances. The company equally decided to stop giving out loans till we know what exactly is going on which was the right step in ensuring we make fewer losses. This meant that those of us in sales had little or nothing to do. Top management decided to redeploy us to the recovery/collection department for the time being for us to earn our pay. I was grateful for this. Sadly no one mentioned training us.
We closed that same day and went home. There were conditions for our redeployment which included a redeployment target that was outrageous especially during a pandemic and lockdown where the methods of recovering loans were limited. They were also going to prorate our salary, just us the redeployed staff. One of my colleagues did not accept these terms and was sacked. I accepted and two weeks later management sent a mail that I was not recovering as much as I should and that they are forced to terminate my contract. People were losing their jobs or not getting paid so I half expected this.
Did you receive any employment benefits?
No employment benefit. I thought they would consider paying me for the two weeks even if it is calculated with the money I recovered but nothing like that. I also learnt from the staff that their April salary came in the second week of May as opposed to the 25th of every month and it was a little less than 60%.
Every day, new lessons. What’s your biggest takeaway from losing your job?
Working in a structured company is very important. That way you are guaranteed of your benefits and treated better even when your contract is being terminated. I also learnt not to accept terms I do not find suitable for a position and this includes what I consider a poor salary. This is the first time I am losing my job so job insecurity is something that can hit anyone at any time.
How do you manage your finances now?
I am a bit lucky in this regard. I live with my cousins at their house. My marriage ended a few years ago so I was forced to leave the house. My cousins opened their door to my daughter and I. I do not pay any rent. One less thing to worry about. They totally understand my financial constraints now so I am not expected to provide food like I used to. I try making chinchin and small chops which I sell to Facebook friends. That is my only market for now. It is not much but it is something and I was especially relieved with the ease of lockdown as I deliver these snacks myself. I equally styled some models for a friend’s clothing line and I was paid for it. I am sending out job applications like crazy and hoping something clicks. Steady income no matter how little is assuring. I plan better with it.
Family is truly everything. What keeps you up at night?
My biggest challenge, which is caring adequately for my daughter.
If you had the opportunity to buy employment insurance, would you jump at it?
I will be honest with you, I do not think I would have bought income protection, not on that job. The pay was barely enough. In fact, I found myself wishing I had the option of holding on to my 7% pension remittance at least till I got a promotion or a better paying job.
Onwards, what’s the one thing you are you looking forward to?
I look forward to more stability in my career. The pandemic has messed up the economy and with peoples’ plans and jobs.
#IamEssential is led by Casava — an insurance company created to help every Nigerian protect their income from unemployment. We ensure that in the event of job loss or in the case that you can’t work because of a serious injury, you earn your salary for up to 6 months.