ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. But when things go wrong we help by providing conciliation to resolve workplace problems.
Starting your first job can be an exciting but an anxious experience for many people. There are lots of new things to get use to including a new place of work, new people new rules and new responsibilities.
There are also a number of employment rights, all new workers have to get treated fairly. You'll also have a number of things to do for your new employer to help make your first job easier.
- Prepare for your first day at work and it will be much easier.
- If you are given written terms and conditions of employment (sometimes called a contract) read it carefully so that you know what your rights and responsibilities are.
- Most workers are entitled to receive the National Minimum wage, this varies depending on your age and whether or not you're an apprentice.
- There are rules about how many hours you can work and what time off you can have. You should be prepared to learn about the rules that your new workplace has, and to follow them.
- In work you can expect to be treated fairly and you should treat your colleagues fairly too.
Your first day
Doing some basic preparation before your first day can really help.
Before you start your new job make sure you know where you're supposed to be and how you'll get there. If you're using public transport check the options and times the day before or ask if there is parking available if you are going to drive.
Remember the location of your interview may be different than where you end up working so it's best to check.
Be on time
It is important to make sure you are on time in your new job, not only because your employer and colleagues will be relying on you to be there, but also as many organisations may have rules about lateness. Ask your new employer in advance what time you need to start so you can show up on time and make a good first impression.
What to wear
Many organisations will expect their staff to dress in a certain way and you should try to find out before your first day what is appropriate clothing for your new workplace. You might be working somewhere that has a uniform which should make the decision of what to wear quite easy. In other workplaces you may be expected to wear smarter clothing, jeans and t-shirts may not be allowed.
More info: Dress Code
Lunch and break times
You can ask your new employer before you start if there's a staff canteen on site or other places to buy lunch nearby. If you don't have this information in advance then you may want to bring food with you for breaks on your first day.
Many employers will give new members of staff an induction on the first day, this is to welcome you to the organisation. Inductions vary from place to place but generally include basic information about where you are working and what you will be doing. This includes some of the things we've already mentioned such as what the dress code is and where the staff canteen is. It should also give you information on the goals of the organisation, the job you will be doing and the rules you'll be expected to follow.
Following the rules
Your new employer will probably have a series of rules (which might be called policies) which set out how they expect employees to do their job and act while in the workplace. You might be given these in the form of a staff handbook or be referred to a webpage to read about them, sometimes you might even receive training on some of the rules as part of your induction. It is important that you make yourself aware of any rules the organisation has and try to follow them.
If you're not sure how to do something or why you're doing it then ask your supervisor or a colleague.
Your rights at work
You probably won't need to know all of this for your first day but you should be aware that there are certain employment rights that you have when you start a new job. The following are some of the basics...
More information: First day at work
Most employees are entitled a written statement containing the main terms and conditions of employment once they have worked for an employer for more than a month, however, anyone who is not an employee, for example someone doing casual work or an independent contractor or freelancer, is not normally entitled to one.
What should be included in a written statement?
The following information should be included in one single document often your contract or job offer letter.
•name of employer and employee
•date employment and continuous employment started
•pay and whether it's weekly, monthly pay etc
•job description/job title
Additional information can be provided in other documents such as staff handbooks, intranet sites on:
Written terms and conditions of employment should be issued within 2 months of you starting work.
Most employers will supply this when you start your new job and you should receive it within the first two months, if you don't then ask your employer about it.
More information: Contracts of employment
Getting paid and making sure you're being paid the right amount is important. How much you earn can depend on your age with younger workers getting less minimum wage per hour than older ones. If you're working as an apprentice you could receive a different amount per hour. You can check out the current rates for the national minimum wage and remember they change every October. You can also find out what you should be getting paid by using the Helpline Online tool.
Some employers may pay more than this so ask when you start and find out what you can expect to be paid.
You're also entitled to a pay slip which explains how much you've earned and shows any deductions that have been made, for things like Tax and National Insurance.
Working the right hours
There are laws to limit the number of hours you are expected to work and to make sure you get the right breaks and time off. These laws are called The Working Time Regulations.
The main rights you have under the Working Time Regulations:
You should work a maximum of 48 hours per week (on average); though with some jobs you can choose to "opt out", this means that you can work more than 48 hours per week.
You should get 5.6 weeks paid leave a year; this means that you should multiply the number of days you worked during the week by 5.6 to work out what you're entitled to. So if you worked 5 days a week you get 28 days off per year. These 28 days can include bank holidays, although some employers may give you those in addition to the 28 days so check your contract to find out.
If you work different hours each week it's a bit more complicated but luckily there is a calculator to work it out for you - GOV.UK Calculate holiday entitlement.
•You should get at least 11 hours of rest in a row in a 24 hour period;
•You should get a break of 20 minutes if you work more than 6 hours;
•You must get at least 1 day off each week (although you'll probably get at least 2);
•If you work at night you shouldn't work more than 8 hours during a 24 hour period, plus you'll be entitled to regular health assessments.
If you're a younger worker (16 & 17 year olds) the Working Time Regulations rules are slightly different:
•You should work a maximum of 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week;
•You should have a rest break of 30 minutes if you work more than 4 ½ hours;
•You should get 2 days off each week.
More information: Working hours
Getting treated fairly at work
When you start your new job you can expect to get treated fairly by your employer and colleagues and not be bullied, discriminated against or harassed. There are laws to protect you from that sort of behaviour and often your employer will have rules about how to act in the workplace too.
If you experience any problems or you see it happening to your colleagues you should speak to your manager or HR about it. You should also ensure that you do not treat your colleagues unfairly.
For further information go to the Acas Website.