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Starting your first job? What you need to know

Here are some ways to prepare yourself for your first days

With any new job comes a host of new experiences and challenges, all of which can be daunting for many first time employees.

To feel more in control and avoid any last minute problems, confirm where you are expected to be and at what time. Plan your route in advance, ensuring you know how much time to allow for your journey.

Check the dress code and make sure you have suitable attire that you are comfortable and confident in.

If you’re unsure whether there is an on-site canteen, you may want to bring a packed lunch.

What to expect

Your first day will likely involve an induction to introduce you to the company and your role. This will help familiarise you with what to expect from your employer and the workplace rules, which may be included in a handbook.

This is a learning curve and it’s important you are aware of what is expected of you and how to carry out your job effectively. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

You will have a written employment contract outlining the conditions and responsibilities of your job. You will probably also be given a Written Statement, to detail aspects of your employment such as holidays and pay.

Know your rights as an employee

Your employer will set your hourly rate, which must at least meet the legal minimum wage requirements. A wage slip will be provided for every pay period, to show earnings and deductions.

Working Time Regulations state that the maximum to be worked is 48 hours per week (unless you opt out) with at least one day off. There should be a minimum of 11 consecutive hours of rest within a 24 hour period, and a 20 minute break if you work over 6 hours. For night workers, this changes to a maximum 8 hour shift within 24 hours and an entitlement to health assessments.

For employees aged 16 and 17, there should be 2 days off per week and a 30 minute break if you work over 4.5 hours, with a maximum working day of 8 hours and a working week of 40 hours.

To calculate your minimum annual leave entitlement, multiply the number of days you work each week by 5.6. This may or may not include bank holidays. The website features a holiday entitlement calculator, should your hours vary.

Everyone should expect to give and receive fair treatment at work and there are laws to protect employees from harassment, bullying and discrimination. Should you experience or witness inequalities within the workplace, you should discuss these with your employer.

You may wish to consider joining a Trade Union. These organisations are designed to support, advise and represent employees. TUC offers more information on joining a Trade Union.

Further information regarding employee rights can be found on the Acas website.

It is important to remember that whilst your first job may not be an ideal position, it will enable you to gain the experience, confidence and skills to help you personally and professionally in the years to come.

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