First, every sympathy for your situation - redundancy is not a pleasant process to be caught up in. I've been through it too many times - on both sides of the fence, as an employee, as a manager (more than once) and as a husband and as a parent. It's always a horribly difficult situation which is extremely hard to handle because of the emotions flowing around.
I'm a chartered accountant, not an HR professional, so I can't give you professional advice as such on this. But daffy is absolutely right - CAB will be able to help you, or a trade union rep, or, ideally, a friendly HR manager if you or any of your family or friends know one. They can talk to your specific financial circumstances, contracts, rights, etc.
If you don't want to seek out one of these, I strongly recommend reading these pages on gov.uk
. They may answer your questions, point you in a helpful direction, or even set your mind at rest that you aren't being mistreated. Even if they just prepare you for a face-to-face chat they will be helpful.
It's impossible for me to know exactly, but FWIW this is my take on the issues that you have flagged up:
- giving 30 days notice is not part of the legal rules, so I assume that it is the minimum notice period in your contract of employment. But, since you have worked in your job for over 2 years, you are legally entitled to more: one week for each year of service (to a maximum of 12 weeks). It sounds like someone didn't realise the details of your situation at first, which isn't ideal, to say the least. IMHO, it's inexcusable.
- Many companies, perhaps most, don't actually require people to work this notice period out - they pay a PILON (Payment in Lieu of Notice) and release you, taking the view that long-faced employees hanging on with their hearts not in the job are no help to anyone, and in certain circumstances can be actively damaging/dangerous. Yours isn't taking that route. But since they would probably prefer not to pay you, and you apparently would have preferred to go earlier, there may be room for a little give and take over this. But, but, but - take specific advice on the knock-on consequences if you go down that route.
- you are entitled to "reasonable" time off for job hunting. But my understanding is that you are only entitled to be paid for a small amount of it. If you are on a five-day week, that is for just two days in total (40% of a week) So if you took a day off each week for the 10 week period, you could be docked 8 days' pay (10 days - 2 days). Although he or she may have put it with all the tact of a runaway elephant, your contract manager may have been doing you a favour with their advice - if you go for interviews outside work time, you won't be docked pay.
Best of luck - this phase of tension, distrust and uncertainty over dates, entitlements and plans is the worst part emotionally speaking for most people, mainly because of the sense of not being in control of your life. It will pass, and you will emerge into the sunlit uplands of endless railway modelling...