With most of us spending around 40 hours a week, 48 weeks a year in our offices, maintaining a good relationship with our bosses is vital. Wind up in a toxic working relationship and our whole lives can become infected, leading to stress, exhaustion or worse. So, most of us make the effort to remain on civil terms with our managers, even if they may not be the sort of person we’d usually get along with.
However, even the fairest, most kind-hearted boss may not always be working in your best interests. After all, they’re loyal to the company first and you a very distant second. Here are seven useful facts about workplace life that your boss won’t tell you:
1. Big Brother Is Watching You
The recent NSA scandal revealed that shady government types have been spying on everything we do online for years; but even these spooks have nothing on your boss. From day one, your internet use has likely been tracked, logged and any time-wasting activities or moaning about your company noted.
And we’re not just talking about sarcastic Facebook posts. Your private inter-office e-mails are almost certainly routinely checked: an activity both slightly chilling and completely legal. So, if you’re the type to let off steam by mocking your boss in a chain e-mail, maybe now is the time to stop.
2. Average Wage
A common complaint for people starting on the corporate ladder is that they’re forced to work 50-60 hours weeks for a miniscule wage – until they get promoted. However, if the effect of these extra hours is to drive your annual salary below the national minimum wage, even if these extra hours are ‘voluntary,’ your company could be breaking the law.
3. ‘Voluntary’ Overtime
While we’re on the subject of overtime, another common complaint among workers is the amount of ‘voluntary’ overtime their boss requires them to do. But what they might not know is that this is potentially illegal. The law states that no-one can be forced to work more than 48 hours per week, unless their employer has a signed, written agreement from them. Does your boss keep you back after hours for unscheduled work? Make sure they’re not crossing that 48 hour barrier.
Most of us trust the company we work for to do its thing and ensure we get a fair pension in our dotage. But are we really getting the best deal? Studies and several high-profile cases (such as the Robert Maxwell fiasco in the 1990s) have shown how company pension schemes are open to manipulation or can sink without a trace, leaving loyal workers bereft. Depending on your circumstances, it may make more sense to opt for a sipp or look to save and invest so you can take control of things.
5. The Next Generation
Are you over 50 or moving towards retirement age? Then watch out: your boss may be planning to get rid of you. Several studies in the US and UK have noticed a sharp preference among employers for “young blood,” particularly when the boss is younger too. The sad fact is that the days of a company that cares for you practically from the cradle to the grave are over, and employers are always looking to ruthlessly cull any older but non-senior employees. If you feel you’ve been let go due to your age, bear in mind this is illegal and you have the right to sue.
6. Union Activities
These days, the term “trade union” conjures images of strikes, miners picketing and the 1980s. But Trade Unions are still legal, most professions have one and – what’s more – it’s legal for you to take time off for Union activities. So, if you’re going to a union meeting, it is very illegal for your boss to punish you if you take time off work to attend. However, the company is not obliged to pay you for this time off, so maybe keep an eye on how frequently union work is keeping you from your desk.
Finally, even if you have a great boss and consider them a friend, be warned: bosses always have their manager’s hat on, even when winding down. No matter how much you trust them, don’t reveal anything that may compromise your ability to work!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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