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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Starting work: what to expect

If you’re starting your first job, there are a few things your employer will give you. They will help you perform your job safely and answer all your questions about your new workplace.

Contracts of employment

When you accept a job and become employed by someone, there is always a contract between you and your employer. Although it doesn’t always have to be in writing or signed, this contract covers your basic rights at work, like the right to be paid.

However, you should receive a written statement of employment within two months of your start date if you are an employee. This will detail things like:

  • your rate of pay
  • your holiday entitlement
  • your hours of work
  • the amount of notice time you have to give if you want to leave
  • the amount of notice time your employer must give you if they want to end your employment

If you don’t get one, ask your employer about it. You may find that this information is given out in the staff handbook.

Pay slips

No matter how much or how often you get paid, you must receive a written pay statement every time you receive your weekly or monthly wages. Along with information about how much you’ve been paid, your pay slip will tell you how much tax and National Insurance has been deducted, your tax code and your employee number.

Keep every pay slip in a safe place somewhere at home. If you’ve worked for part of the year, or if you’ve just started a new job, you may have paid too much tax, so you will need these details to claim it back. If you don’t get a pay slip, tell your manager or supervisor.


To ease you into your new job, most companies will give you an induction during your first few days. You will be introduced to the people you will be working with, shown around your place of work and be told about what you will be doing on a day to day basis. You should also get all the training you need to do your job.

This is the best opportunity to ask general questions about the job and your employer, so if you do have any worries or concerns, it’s a good idea to raise them at the end of this conversation.

Health and safety information

An employer has a responsibility to look after your health and safety at work, so you will be told about any risks that you may come across in your place of work and where all the safety equipment is. Things you will be told about include:

  • where the fire exits are
  • where you can find the first aid kit
  • whether you need any special clothing or protection to do certain parts of your job

If you’re working in a kitchen or a workshop, your work may mean using equipment that can be dangerous. Before letting you use any pieces of equipment, your employer will make sure that you’re fully trained on how to use it safely. Do not try to use any piece of equipment before you have been given this training.

Other training opportunities

Working is a great way of learning new skills. Chances to do new things will come up quite regularly at work, so make sure you make the most of every training opportunity that you are given. You might not feel it’s useful at the moment, but you never know when it will be in the future.

If you find a training course that you want to do, your employer may pay for your costs if they feel that it will benefit your work. Talk to your manager to find out about the training support available from your company. You may also be entitled to time off work if you’re studying for certain qualifications in your spare time.

Harassment, bullying and discrimination

All employees are entitled to work in a place that is free from discrimination and bullying, no matter how long you have been working there. There are laws that are there to protect you, regardless of your age, gender, race, religion and sexuality.

During your first few days, you might be told how your new company deals with bullying and intimidating behaviour in the workplace and how they deal with a complaint. If you are being discriminated against at work, tell your manager as soon as possible.

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