Businessman thumbs-up right hand

Rights: we all have them, but very few of us actually know just what we have. This may be because the topic of workplace rights can a bit of a minefield to navigate through.

Your rights as a worker are perhaps best understood when segmented into two distinct categories:

 

Statutory Rights at Work

Statutory rights are the most basic form of employee rights, and they're applicable to virtually all workers across the UK. These rules are enforced to protect workers nationwide from mistreatment, discrimination and unfair dismissal, amongst other things.

While there may be some exceptions to the rule, statutory rights are typically available to working men and women the moment they start a new job. They include basic rights such as the National Minimum Wage, itemised payslips, and holiday entitlement.

 

Contractual Rights at Work

Additional rights may also be granted to you depending on what's in your contract. These rights are part of the terms and conditions of your employment, and the specifics may differ widely from one job to the next.

Contractual rights can provide you with additional protections beyond the minimum legal requirement. Remuneration, working hours, commission rate, pension schemes and notice periods may all come under this heading.

 

Specific Rights at Work

In addition to your basic human rights, your pay and your holiday leave, there are a variety of other specific working rights available to workers across the UK.

While some of these may not ever come up in conversation or necessitate discussion, they are important for a variety of reasons.

 

Sick Pay

People can't help falling ill from time to time, and workers rarely achieve a 100% attendance rate year after year. This is what paid sick leave is for.

Sick pay is typically split into two types: statutory sick pay (SSP) and company sick pay:

  • Statutory Sick Pay - SSP is the minimum amount of pay you are legally entitled to when you become ill and require extended time off. For SSP to kick in, you should be off work with illness for a minimum of four days. As of April 2019, the rate of SSP is £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks.

  • Company Sick Pay - Your employer may (at their discretion) offer their own sick pay policy that is more generous than the SSP baseline. Also known as occupational or contractual sick pay, the terms of this are laid out by the company themselves, typically in employee contracts or job T&Cs.

 

Maternity Leave

If you're expecting a birth, you are entitled to a number of additional rights outside of your standard daily employee entitlements.

Impending parenthood is protected under employment law through maternity leave. Employed mothers are entitled to 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave, up to 39 of which must be paid.

Women are protected from discrimination and unfair dismissal during this time, while expectant mothers are also entitled to paid time off for antenatal care. Additionally, some employers may also have their own maternity schemes in place that offer additional benefits.

Fathers-to-be may also be entitled to up to 2 weeks of paternity leave. You are also allowed time off to accompany the mother for two antenatal appointments, as required.

 

Parental Rights

Children get sick just like adults do - more often, in fact. To make matters even more stressful for working parents, many schools now abide by a 48-hour rule, meaning a sick child must be free of their symptoms for at least 48 hours before being allowed to return to class.

Luckily, parental responsibilities such as this are usually covered by employment law and worker's rights. The law grants you the right to parental leave if you have worked for your employer for over a year and have official parental responsibility over the child in question.

Employers may also grant this courtesy to some people who don't meet all of the requirements. Most reasonable employers will grant time off to care for children or vulnerable family members.

 

Additional Work Rights

In addition to the above, there are additional rights that can be highly relevant to many workers across the UK. Two of the most common topics of conversation are:

 

Flexible Working

Flexible working is essentially altering your work schedule to a new pattern that differs from your old one. This includes changes such as full-time to part-time, flexitime and job sharing.

This can be approached as either a statutory request or non-statutory request, with the former representing a more official legal approach and the latter a less formal manner.

 

Agency Work

Also known as temps, agency workers typically don't enjoy some of the rights of full-time or part-time employees. This due to the fact that they are paid through an agency, not the company the worker is ultimately placed in.

While agency workers do have many of the statutory rights of typical employees, granting them basic legal protection, they aren't covered for claims relating to statutory redundancy, statutory maternity or unfair dismissal.

Read More: Inappropriate Interview Questions   Browse Latest Science Vacancies

Team HRS with their football shirts

Last Saturday (13 July 2019), the inaugural Apprentice Cup took place at Epping St John's School in Epping, Essex. This special charity football match saw Ricky Martin and the HRS five-a-side squad take on 2014 Apprentice winner Mark Wright and his Climb Online team.

Ricky Martin and HRS vs Mark Wright and Climb Online

The stakes were high: in addition to the shame of coming in second, the losing side's manager would have to donate £1,000 of his own money to Alzheimer's Society, a UK charity that funds research, campaigns for change, and supports people affected by dementia all over the country.

How did the match go? Well, watch the video and see for yourself...

By the final whistle, the score was Hyper Recruitment Solutions 8, Climb Online 1 - which meant that it was Mark who ended up giving a grand of his own cash to the Alzheimer's charity, although both companies donated an additional £500 each!

Everyone here at HRS is very proud, both of our resounding victory on the football pitch and of the money we've helped to raise for this very worthy cause. If you're able to spare anything, please consider clicking the link below and donating to support Alzheimer's Society and the amazing work they do.

Alzheimer's Society - Donate Now >>

Stressed out worker

Now more than ever before, mental health is a key priority amongst working professionals.

However, some would argue that the stresses of work are taking more of a toll also.

If your job is causing you stress and anxiety, it could be time to make a change - for the sake of your health.

Read on for the ins and outs of work stress and how to cope with it.

 

"Work is stressing me out!"

If you find yourself uttering these words on a regular basis, it may be time to take a good hard look at your current work situation.

Whether we like to admit it or not, stress can have a seriously negative effect on our bodies, physically as well as mentally.

Here are a few things to be wary of:

 

Increased Workload

Trying to clear a never-ending workload can be akin to shovelling snow in a blizzard. A 'to-do' list that's impossible to put a dent in is a clear-cut sign that you're struggling under an unrealistic workload. If you find yourself unsuccessfully racing to clear your in-tray on a daily basis, you may be overworked already, or at least on the cusp of taking on more than you can cope with.

 

Longer hours

An increased workload can naturally lead to longer working hours, particularly when pressure mounts to complete all those tasks you've been assigned. In an effort to keep up with the mounting demands, days become longer, working hours stretch well beyond clock-off time, and the pressure to arrive earlier in the day and make a prompt start can also become greater.

 

No Social Life

When work takes over your day-to-day life, the first casualty is your social life. Time restrictions and tunnel vision can seriously limit your opportunities to spend time with friends and family. As time goes on, this can lead to strained relationships - which could prove catastrophic, particularly if you have a long-term partner.

 

Fatigue

Going to bed tired, waking up tired, and feeling tired all day is not a fun way to live: it's a vicious circle that can all too easily turn into a downward spiral.

 

Physical signs of stress

Stress can take its toll on the body, resulting in not only anxiety but several other physical effects. These can range from insomnia and a lack of focus to high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.

Stress can also have a knock-on effect on other areas of your health, leading to detrimental lifestyle choices such as comfort eating, smoking and alcohol abuse.

 

Other forms of work stress

While overwhelming workloads and looming deadlines tend to be the primary sources of work-related anxiety, it's important to remember that it can come from other places as well.

For example, the morning commute to work can be a daily kettle of stress, unavoidably boiling over when traffic is heavy, public transport is running behind, or an accident has caused a delay.

Similarly, factors related to childcare can indirectly make work more stressful. If your childminder has specified drop-off times, you may only be able to leave as early as those restrictions allow, making it harder to get to work on time. Meanwhile, if your child is ill and you have no choice but to take time off work, this may cause you to fall behind.

 

Coping with workplace stress

While stress at work can be unavoidable at times, there are a few things you can do to combat it. Changing the way you act and react to these stressful situations, both during the working day and outside of it, can really have a positive impact on your mental well-being and overall state of mind.

Here are a few suggestions to help you lighten the load:

 

Hit the Gym

Whether you're into fitness or not, it's a scientific fact - exercise is great for mind and body alike.

Exercise not only helps keep your body fit and healthy, it also promotes the release of endorphins that can help trigger positive mental well-being. Meanwhile, it can also help you to relax during times of heightened anxiety.

 

Be Healthy

While stressful scenarios can easily lead to over-eating, binge-drinking or chain-smoking, none of these mental crutches will help the root of the problem.

In fact, if anything, these activities can make matters decidedly worse and can exacerbate the negative health effects of stress.

Try to make a conscious effort to be healthier in your day-to-day life. Healthy dietary and lifestyle choices can limit the effects of stress on your body, particularly when it comes to fatigue.

 

Switch Off

While it may be easier said than done, switching off from work and taking time to completely decompress can work wonders.

Taking this in the literal sense can be particularly effective, especially for those who have a work phone or work emails sent to their personal phone.

If it's not imperative, try switching off your work phone and/or disabling email notifications during out-of-work hours. You might be surprised by how much this helps!

To kill two birds with one stone, this can easily be coupled with a hobby that you enjoy or time at the gym for an easier transition that truly takes your mind elsewhere.

 

Be Realistic

If you're given 20 hours' worth of work, don't expect to complete it in an 8-hour working day. While meeting an unrealistic demand may seem like a commendable task initially, it can set a precedent that's impossible to maintain.

Continuously working yourself past the point of exhaustion and well into overtime to complete weekly or daily workloads is essentially enabling your superior's unrealistic demands. Don't be afraid to speak up; silently going along with it will only make matters worse.

 

Be Proactive

Stressing out about things you have no control over - such as impending redundancy, limited holiday allowance, et cetera - is futile anxiety. Nothing you do or say is likely to change those things in the immediate future, particularly if promotion and progression are off the table at the moment.

Instead of getting worked up about things you can't change, focus your efforts on the things you can. If you're unhappy about your salary or your job is coming to an end, apply for something new and put your efforts into finding a replacement or something more suitable.

Browse Science Jobs >>   Join the HRS Team >>

Man adjusting his business suit

When it comes to writing your CV, the hardest part is often getting started and actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be).

A CV is essentially your shop window to promote yourself and, like any shop window, it has to be attractive, neatly presented, and contain something of interest to grab the attention of passers-by.

Today, we're going to focus on achievements - let's run down exactly what achievements to include on your CV to make it shop-window ready.

 

How to Include Achievements on Your CV

A good CV should cover approximately two pages of A4, providing enough information about you, your skills and your achievements without going into unnecessary detail. Space is valuable and extremely limited, so make sure the whole document is solid gold from start to finish.

Be sure to include your recent job history, but don't just mention the duties and responsibilities of each job - really hone in and focus on the results you achieved while you were there.

If you managed a team of ten, go on to mention the fact that your team regularly surpassed their targets under your direction. If you were in charge of sales, include how much revenue was generated as a result of your hard work.

Remember, don't undersell yourself – you only get one chance to make a great first impression. Merely scratching the surface can do you and your skills a serious disservice, and this could be the difference between a callback and a courtesy email.

 

The Wow Factor

In addition to your career timeline and work history, it's important to include the various milestones you've achieved along the way. For job-specific accomplishments, this can be woven into your summary of the relevant job role; however, you may want to include these points in a separate box-out on your CV.

Opting to include achievements on a CV as a stand-alone section is a great way to highlight them to your potential employer, as well as emphasising their importance. This is your 'wow factor' space, reserved for the biggest achievements, ensuring they won't go unnoticed even by the busiest of skim-readers.

It's also a great opportunity to include achievements outside of your career roles, such as work experience, supplementary qualifications and notable feats that transfer well. If you have a relevant accomplishment that falls outside of your linear job history, this is the space to mention it.

 

Stay on Target

Speaking of transferable skills, that leads us nicely to the topic of relevance. Keeping your list of accomplishments applicable is extremely important and can highlight your suitability for the job at a glance.

While it may have been a glorious achievement at the time, that '2nd Place' badge from the junior school sports day sack race probably isn't that relevant when you're applying for a post-grad science job.

Similarly, a ten-man killstreak on Call of Duty may earn you points with the lads down the pub, but it's unlikely to impress your interviewer in terms of employability and suitability for a role.

Try to keep your CV achievements professional, recent, and relevant to the role in question. While additional experience outside of the stated job criteria can be helpful at times, it can also be surplus to requirements.

Read the job description and the person specification carefully, and aim to really tailor your CV to the role you're applying for. Don't distract your potential employer with excess information; grab their attention by checking the boxes you know they are looking to tick.

 

Paint by Numbers

A good CV should paint a vivid picture of the individual as a worker and what they can bring to the table. One of the easiest ways to make your value abundantly clear is to speak in a language most decision-makers will understand: numbers.

Quantifiable figures and statistics are a clear, concise way to illustrate the impact you had on a given outcome. As long as you're being truthful, they can also serve as verifiable evidence to back up your claim.

If you increased company productivity, don't be afraid to crow about just how much you did so. After all, 'My continued efforts increased team-wide productivity by 20%' sounds far more impressive than simply stating 'I increased productivity'.

This rule isn't reserved for percentages - it can also be used to great effect when applied to monetary figures. If your consultancy work saved your client thousands of pounds, be sure to mention just how much you saved them.

The same goes for sales: if you made X sales last month / quarter / year, include the number and don't be afraid to contextualise it. If your salary was £30k and you brought in £300k, simply stating that your sales paid for your salary ten times over can be an attractive point well made.

By now, you should have a good overall idea of what achievements to include on a CV and how to include them effectively. If you need any further CV advice, the following links may be of use to you:

CV Checklist   10 Common CV Mistakes

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Crumpled-up paper

Getting turned down for a job can be disheartening at the best of times and downright devastating at the worst.

Rejection is particularly frustrating if it comes after you went to the trouble of attending a job interview - making it to the very end of the process only to fall at final hurdle can be a bitter pill to swallow.

That being said, life is a never-ending learning experience, and there can be victory in defeat - even when it comes to not getting the job.

 

Why ask for feedback after interview rejection?

Swallowing your pride and asking 'why?' takes real bravery. After all, you bared your soul in the interview, attempted to sell yourself based on your best qualities, and got turned down all the same – it's hard not to take that personally.

Surely asking your rejectors to elaborate on their decision is akin to asking an ex why they decided to dump you in favour of someone else?

Well, luckily, it needn't be quite as fraught an experience as that.

 

The benefits of asking for feedback after a job interview

Asking for feedback after a job interview can actually be very helpful on a number of levels. While it may seem like you're willingly rubbing salt into your own unemployable wounds, there are a variety of benefits to be had:

 

Discover what worked (and what didn't)

Knowing what went well and what didn't can be a great way to streamline your approach to future job applications, and identifying key areas that are in need of improvement can help you to fill in any gaps in your interview game.

If you knocked it out of the park with your presentation skills but struggled to answer their questions about the business, you know to do more revision next time. On the other hand, if you lacked a skill that the other candidate had, you may want to look into mastering that skill for yourself.

It may not even have had anything to do with your skills at all: it could have been a single throwaway comment that irked the interviewer, or the fact you'd neglected to shave that morning. Either way, clarity can help you right your wrongs and ensure lightning doesn't strike twice.

 

Learn something new

Thorough feedback is frequently helpful, but sometimes, it can be outright enlightening.

From body language to bad habits, asking for comments on your interview performance could lead you to find out something new about yourself that you didn't know about before. This will allow you to work on yourself if necessary.

Whether it's unconsciously doodling on your notepad, not maintaining eye contact out of sheer nerves, or simply seeming disinterested in an attempt to present yourself as calm, brutally honest feedback can make for great constructive criticism.

 

Find out what they want

Interviewer feedback can be a great way to gauge exactly what employers are looking for (and then make sure you present it in future interviews).

If your interviewer informs you that you seemed too brash and self-assertive, try to reign it in a bit next time. If your suit was too loud, tone it down in future. If your handshake was too weak, train up those forearms!

Whatever feedback you are given is a peek behind the curtain at what other employers are likely to be looking for too, so take note and be sure to tick those boxes on your next attempt.

 

Leave the door open

A willingness to learn and better yourself is a great trait to have. Actively seeking ways to improve yourself can leave a lasting impression on a potential employer.

If this is a company you really want to work for or a vacancy you are hoping will crop up again, asking for feedback in a polite and grateful manner could leave the door open to future opportunities.

You never know - the successful candidate may not last, and a positive parting of ways now could leave you first in line for a call-up.

 

How to ask for feedback after an interview

While the setback of job rejection can leave a fresh scar that's particularly tender to the touch, it's important to remain calm, level-headed, and - above all - courteous in your response. This is far easier to do via email, so if possible, go down the digital route rather than making a phone call.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when you're responding to a rejection email. Firstly, remember that their mind is made up by this point and this isn't a window to make them reconsider. Instead, use your response as an opportunity to further endear yourself and leave them with a lasting positive impression.

Display your gratitude for the time they gave you and, if you do choose to relay your disappointment, be sure to do so in a manner that is friendly and reinforces your desire to hopefully work together in the future.

Employers are far more likely to respond to your request if a) you are genuine in your response, and b) you present yourself as a potential candidate for the future. The interviewers have already invested time in you throughout this process, and a positive farewell could still result in good things to come.

Hyper Recruitment Solutions have helped countless candidates to secure rewarding jobs in the science and technology sectors. Browse our latest job listings here, or click the following links for more interview advice...

Job Interview Checklist   How Honest Should I Be in an Interview?