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Starting Work

Starting a new job can be an exciting experience and can seem a little scary at first, as being an employee is different from being a school pupil or student. You’ll meet new people, learn new skills and get earn money for the work you carry out!

You will have a role and job to fulfil and certain things will be expected from you in a work place, being on time, following instructions and showing that you are reliable and dependable.

You might find that your working life is more structured than what you are normally used to. You might have to report to someone like a manger or a supervisor and they will give you instructions, or ask you to perform certain tasks, sometimes within a certain time period. You will also find you have to account for your actions and decisions, such as why you performed a task in a certain way. Many workplaces will expect you to show initiative – to do things without being asked or supervised.

It can take time to get used to your new working environment, some people will adapt quicker than others. It helps to ask questions if you’re not sure about something and a good idea to make an effort to get to know your new work colleagues.

Try to be friendly and helpful in the workplace but equally don’t let people take advantage of you because you are young and new to the job.

Things can also be unsettling if you are returning to work, regardless of the reason for the break whether it has been after a period of unemployment, extended leave, maternity leave or perhaps you’ve moved to a new area. Like starting work for the first time, it might take you time to adjust to the situation.

If you do experience problems in the workplace like bullying or discrimination don’t be afraid to get help. Speak to your supervisor or manager or find out who you can talk to in the Human Resources or Personnel department if they have one, as there may be a complaints procedure.

There are also Trade Unions that you can join for a small regular contribution from your wages that protect workers and are there to help or you could go to the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) for free advice on what you should do. You can also find a range of useful information on the Careers Wales website.

Being Employed

You should receive a contract of employment when you start a new job, which will detail what hours you are expected to work, what pay you will receive and how many paid holidays you are entitled to.

A percentage of your wages is paid by your employer directly to the government in tax and national insurance. Don’t be alarmed if you see this on your payslip – some people multiply the hours they work by their hourly rate of pay and are shocked when they receive less than this because their tax and national insurance has been deducted!

For more about expectations in your new job, please visit Careers Wales who offer Information, Advice and Guidance about starting work.

Hours of Work

There are a number of working options you can choose, including working full-time, part-time, flexible working hours and job share (this is when you and another employee both carry out the job part time covering working different days of the week).

Some employers (especially larger ones) are now more flexible about working arrangements, so that you can work hours or days to suit your lifestyle or family commitments.

Anyone can ask their employer for flexible work arrangements, but by law anyone who is a carer or has children under the age of 16 has the right to ask employers for flexible hours.

  • Your normal working hours should be set out in your contract of employment
  • Your terms of employment should say what hours and working patterns are involved in your job. You might not have a written contract, but employees must be given written particulars of their main terms and conditions – including the working hours – within two months of starting
  • Most workers should not have to work more than an average of 48 hours a week, according to the Working Time Regulations, unless you or you work in a sector with its own special rules (see below)
  • The Working Time Regulations also give you rights to paid holiday, rest breaks and limits on night work

Young workers

  • If you are under 18 and over school leaving age (you are under school leaving age until the end of the summer term of the school year in which you turn 16) you are classed as a young worker
  • Young workers cannot usually be made to work more that eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. These hours can’t be averaged over a longer period

There are some exceptions to these rules.

Who is exempt from the working time regulations?

Your working week is not covered by the Working Time Regulations if you work in the following areas:

  • Jobs where you can choose freely how long you will work eg. a managing executive
  • The armed forces, emergency services and police are excluded in some circumstances
  • Domestic servants in private houses
  • Trainee doctors
  • Oil workers in the transport industry (either road, rail, air or sea)