Employers often make promises they don’t intend to keep or hide the complete truth from employees. Even the most seasoned professionals sometimes have to learn the hard way that they can’t trust their employer. Sometimes employers don’t know or bother to learn accurate information and simply tell employees (or job candidates) what they want to hear. We all take the easy way out occasionally, but it’s not so great when you’re on the other side. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself from uniformed, lazy or dishonest employers.
Get it in Writing
Don’t take anyone’s word when it comes to important things such as raises, benefits, pay, and job duties. When something changes in your job, ask for an updated contract. Then, read everything before signing to ensure new information is included and accurate. If your employer doesn’t want to offer anything in writing, it may be time to find a better place of employment. Even Google employees complain about vague promises, so don’t expect other employers to be any better.
Documentation can save you a lot of trouble, both in career and personal matters. Save and categorize important emails, and copy them to a personal drive or email account if possible. Document achievements and responsibilities, however small, because it will help when asking for a raise and updating your resume. When discussing important matters with coworkers or supervisors, make sure to follow up with a confirmation or summary via email or on paper so that there is solid proof of what transpired. Finally, time stamp any creative work so that you have proof if someone tries to take credit.
Know Your Rights
Unscrupulous employers count on employees not knowing their rights. Unfortunately, many employers take advantage of employee desperation and lack of knowledge. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand basic employment laws. There are several employment law resources online, such as DOL.gov and Nolo.com. UK workers can visit Delni.gov.uk for employment rights resources and Canadian workers can find resources at Labour.gc.ca. If you are working in another country, simply search “employee rights (country)” .
Don’t Count on HR
The human resources department is working to protect your employer, not you. A lot of employees have the misconception that HR will always stand behind an employee in case of wrongdoing, but that is not always the case. In fact, HR is on the company’s side by default. When should you contact HR? If a coworker or supervisor is exhibiting behavior that could be damaging to the company (theft, harassment, violating written policy, etc.) then HR will likely be compelled to act in order to protect the company from legal or financial problems. However, if only you stand to lose from an action or inaction, they likely won’t act on your behalf.
Even the most established companies make mistakes when dealing with job candidates and employees, so it’s your responsibility to take necessary steps to know your rights and seek out accurate information.