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Ruth Kalbraier: My First Job

Thursday 18 August 2016

Acas Helpline Advisor Ruth Kalbraier on her own experience as a young worker as we publish our latest pages, on A level results day, for young people entering the world of work.

Ruth Kalbraier

Ruth Kalbraier is a Helpline Adviser for Acas based in Newcastle.



I still feel nervous now when I think about my first day at work. I was 18 years old starting a part time bar job in a local pub. I felt vulnerable and inexperienced. I got no prior training and ended up with more beer on the floor than in the glasses!

Fortunately, my boss was very supportive and he helped me through the first few days.

That was 13 years ago and I'm now a helpline adviser at Acas, where we help more than 1 million people a year prevent and resolve problems at work. I regularly take calls from people aged 16 years and over who are looking for advice on all aspects of workplace issues and employment rights.

Acas is soon to publish its guidance, New to work, for younger people taking the giant leap into employment, which includes tips for young people on how to hit the ground running in their first job.

The guidance focuses on rights and responsibilities for both employees and managers and gives advice on apprenticeships, the National Minimum Wage (NMW), maximum working hours, part time working, Zero hours contracts, joining a trade union, and social media use at work.

It also reminds 16 and 17 year olds that they have slightly different rights, which restricts their working hours. For example, they must have two days off a week, work only eight hours a day, and a maximum of 40 hours per week and must not, normally, work nights.

Younger people are also entitled to at least the NMW rate of pay, which will depend on their age and if they are an apprentice. This applies to staff who are are undergoing any training for the job, or an induction day.

The NMW for apprentices is set lower for under 19s, but apprentices have the advantage that their work is combined with education and training, which leads to a nationally recognised qualification.

Our guidance offers tips and advice on a younger person's first day at work such as getting there on time, dressing appropriately and getting used to the workplace culture.

I would like to help A level and GCSE students, who will shortly be entering the world of work, with my top three tips for first job success.

Firstly, make sure you are careful while using social media - both in and out of work. I have received a number of calls from parents whose children have been disciplined at work for inappropriate social media usage about work even outside of working hours.

Secondly, develop a professional manner, if you're dealing with customers your employer will expect you be polite, friendly and professional at all times. Don't forget to treat your colleagues with respect and dignity. Adapt to the culture of the working environment, as work is very different from school in a number of ways.

And last but not least, enjoy your job. You are going to be in work for the rest of your lives so make the most of it!

1 Comment

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  • Posted by Jones  |  7 November 2016, 8:18AM

    First job is always hard, you just need to accustom to a huge change in your life. Let's face it - school and college are a breeze in comparison to work. You just need to adapt not only to your new colleges and your boss, but also to a change in your life. It will be much more monotonous and repetitive.