In the current workplace it can be too easy to be focused on how lucky you are to have a job. With unemployment numbers rising every day, and hundreds of qualified people out of work, it can seem that you should just be happy to have a job. People are struggling to make ends meet, so you should be happy just to have a 9-5 income shouldn’t you?
Well, yes of course you should be thankful. But you should also be aware that this is a fantastic time to be an employer. As an employer in the current environment you can choose between hundreds of qualified and eager applicants. And they will all want to work hard to keep their jobs. If you need people to work extra hours over the weekend, you can tell anyone you want to do it. They might be too scared of losing their job to say no. Or you might need someone to work more shifts than they are legally allowed to. Because they’re so happy to have a job, your employees might willingly break this law for you.
But this has created a whole environment where the employer is king. They can ask you to do anything that they want, and you will feel obligated to do it. So employers have begun to change this to their advantage, meaning that they are taking advantage of their employees. This can happen in a number of ways, and it can be really hard to even notice that it is happening sometimes. To make sure you’re protected, we’ve assembled a few of the most common ways that employers take advantage of their workforce.
Read these, and keep an eye out for them at your place of work. These are a few of the more common methods, but it is not an exhaustive list, so it is worth doing your own research as well.
It depends on where you work, and in what industry. But everyone is required to take a certain length of break after working for a certain number of hours. This is to do with safety as much as comfort. After a few hours working with heavy machinery, you are certainly more likely to have an accident. You are therefore more likely to put yourselves and others at risk. Employers will often not inform you of these breaks, and will only allow you to take them if you ask for them. You should be clear and decisive when you come to ask about breaks, and remember that you’re legally entitled to them.
Employers can also cut back by not providing you with the appropriate training for your post. Any time spent being trained is time that you could be spending at work. But if you’re working with specialist kit, lifting heavy objects or even working with food and drink then you should be given the right training. And the company should pay for the training as well as your wage for the duration of the course. You should be especially careful in a situation such as this. If you are caught doing something without the correct legally mandated training then you will personally be fined. Protect your own interests, and make sure you’re getting the training you need.
If you’re injured at work then it is more often than not the fault of your employer. There are a lot of legal regulations focused on creating a safe workspace for your employees that you have to read when you become an employer. They should make sure that you’re protected and safe. If you are injured, then you can end up having to take extensive time off work. If you’re salaried or on a contract then this is often not problematic, but if you’re part-time or on a limited contract this can result in a loss of income. If you haven’t been properly protected, and if the negligence of your employer has lead to your injury and lost earnings then you may be entitled to some compensation. Consider contacting the appropriate professional body. Contact RussellWorthSolicitors work accident solicitors in order to more fully understand your rights.
You are entitled to a certain amount of paid holiday every year. Before signing any contract it is worth trying to understand exactly how much you are allowed and how it is assigned. Often you will be allowed a certain number of days over a certain period, and if you do not use them in that period then they cannot be transferred. Be careful in instances like this, as the deadline to use up your holiday will often be at strange times of the year. It won’t be at the turn of the new year. If you reach near the end of the period then you should just take all of the holiday you can. You’re allocated a certain amount because your life should have a good work/life balance.
You should also be looking at the general benefits package of your contract. It will probably be the case that when you went to an interview they impressed upon you how fantastic the benefits and potential raises are. They may have done this to distract you from the fairly low base wage. Make sure that you understand when your contract says that you are eligible for a performance review. In this regard it is also worth talking to your colleagues.
There is a general sense that talking about how much you earn is a faux pas. But if you and your co-workers talk about what you’re being paid then it is less likely that you will accept below what you’re actually worth to the company. This is an informal way of protecting your interests against a company that will probably be trying to get the most work out of you for as little money as possible. Don’t be taken in, and remember that it is entirely up to you to act in your own best interests. Your employer will certainly not do it for you.