After you've been dismissed

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

Finding a new job as quickly as possible is often the best way to move on after being sacked.

If your dismissal was genuinely unfair, you might be able to take your employer to an employment tribunal. Check if your dismissal was unfair.

You might not have much money for a while so you should check if you’re entitled to benefits and get advice on managing any debts you have.

Being dismissed can have a big emotional impact, so it’s also important to get support from family and friends, or even from your GP.

Check that you have all the money you’re entitled to

When you get your final pay, check that you have:

  • all the wages or salary you were owed

  • any ‘pay in lieu of notice’ if you’re not working your full notice

  • pay for any holiday you didn't take before you were fired

  • any bonus, commission or expenses you’re entitled to

If you had any benefits like a company car or phone and were allowed personal use of them, you’re entitled to keep them until the end of your notice period. If they were for work use only and you don’t work your notice period (called ‘garden leave’), you have to give them back immediately.

Read more about getting paid when you leave your job.

Finding a new job

Finding a new job is usually the best way to boost your confidence and stop any money worries.

Temp jobs are often quicker to find and a new employer might not ask why your last job ended.

You can use the Find a job service on GOV.UK to look for a new job.

You might be able to get some money to help you find a new job. Read more about Access to Work grants for people with a disability, health or mental health condition.

Explaining your dismissal to a new employer

It’s best to be honest with a new employer if they ask why you left a role.

If they know you've been dismissed for poor performance or ‘misconduct’ (when your employer says you’ve done something wrong), there’s a risk they might not offer you a job.

But if you don't tell them the real reason for your dismissal and they find out later, you could be sacked.

Think carefully about how to explain the situation - keep your explanation as short and professional as possible.

Getting a reference

Your old employer doesn’t have to give you a reference - but if they do, it has to be truthful and fair.

You might get a bad reference if you’ve been sacked for poor performance or misconduct. This is because your old employer can be sued if they don’t mention something about you that later causes problems for a new employer.

If you're worried about getting a bad reference, you can ask your old employer for a basic reference - this just gives your job title, salary and dates of employment. Many employers do this, so it won't look odd to a new employer.

Read more about your right to a fair and accurate reference on GOV.UK.

Claiming benefits

You might be able to claim benefits while you’re looking for a new job, like Universal Credit. You might also be able to get a higher amount of benefits you already get, for example:

  • Universal Credit

  • Housing Benefit

  • Council Tax Reduction

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • tax credits

Use the benefits calculator on GOV.UK to see what benefits you might be entitled to.

If you’re dismissed for misconduct, your benefits might be delayed for 13 weeks or in some cases even longer. This is called a ‘benefit sanction’.

The rules about benefit sanctions are complicated so contact your nearest Citizens Advice immediately if you’re worried your benefits might be sanctioned.

An adviser can help you apply for a hardship payment or challenge your sanction. Check what you can do if you're sanctioned while getting Universal Credit

Read more about foodbanks and other emergency help you can get if your benefits are delayed.

Claiming a tax refund

If your income goes down because you’re out of work for a while, you’ll probably pay less tax. You might even get a tax refund.

GOV.UK has more information on how to claim a tax refund.

Get advice about debts

You should get advice straight away about any debts you have already.

Read getting help with your debts.

If you’re worried about getting into debt, use a budgeting tool to see exactly how much money you spend each month.

Making a career change

You can get advice from the My World of Work service from Skills Development Scotland if you want to get a new qualification or make a career change, like starting your own business.

My World of Work (Skills Development Scotland)


Telephone: 0800 917 8000

Open 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday

You might be able to get help paying for training and qualifications. Read more about:

Getting help if you’re finding your dismissal difficult

Being dismissed can be upsetting and stressful, especially if the process was handled badly.

If you’re finding your dismissal difficult, speak to your GP - they may be able to offer support or refer to you to a free counselling service.

You can also call the Samaritans’ free helpline - you can speak to their trained volunteers about anything.


Telephone: 116 123


Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from all mobiles and landlines.