• The Basics

    No matter what job title they give you, you are a worker. All you have to sell are your skills, experience and hard graft.
    You sell these by the hour. At the end of the week your employer is supposed to settle their bill. They have to pay for every hour you gave them. If they don't the deal is broken.
    A guest can't just decide to only pay for only 4 out of every 5 nights they stay in a hotel.
    A customer can't just decide to pay for only 2 out of every 3 courses they eat.
    Your employer can't just decide to pay for only 40 out of every 50 hours you work!
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  • Read the Small Print

    Make sure you read your contract back to front. That's going to tell you what you're supposed to be paid and how many hours you are supposed to work, so don't just sign it and shove it in a back drawer. It'll also tell you whether you get an additional premium on that hourly rate if you work overtime.
    You need to be paid your contractual hourly rate you work for every hour you work - no ifs or buts. It's a contract breach if they don't.
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  • The Minimum is the Minimum

    The National Minimum Wage currently stands at £6.70 an hour for over 21's and £7.20 if you are 25 and over. Legally you have to be paid at least that for every hour you work.
    If you were on an hourly rate of £7.50 you might be tempted to think that the NMW doesn't affect you. But think about this.
    40 at hours at Miniumum Wage is £268.
    40 hours at £7.50 is £300. 50 hours at minimum wage is £335.
    So if your hourly rate is £7.50 and you work 50 hours but only get paid for 40 there is a £35 shortfall in the legally required rate of pay. Your employer can get fined big bucks for this type of breach.
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  • Get Smart

    Hospitality employers are full of tricks. One trick is to issue you with a salaried contract instead of one where you are paid by the hour. That way they can get you to do all sorts of crazy hours and not pay for them. When you sit down and work it out you may even be earning less than when you were on an hourly rate.
    One way to tackle this is to use the Working Time Regulations. These specify that for health and safety reasons the working week should be limited to 48 hours. In order to legally be able to work you more than 48 you employer needs to get you to sign an opt out agreeing the 48 hour limit doesn't apply to you. Here's were the second employer trick comes into play. They write the opt out into the standard contract terms and most people don't even realise the consequence of what they've signed.
    You can opt back in to 48 hour limit though. All you have to do is give your employer written notice.
    If you are on a salary contract - get smart - opt back in to 48!
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  • Take a Break

    Your official break times will often be written into your contract. You need to make sure you take them. If you work through them you are giving time and money back to you employer for free.
    The Working Time Regulation also specify that for health and safety reasons you must be given a 20 minute un-interrupted break in every 6 hour period of work. A break means away from your work station and un-interrupted means you should be pestered or called back during that 20 minutes.
    This is not just about time and money. It's about your health and well being.
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  • Keep Track

    You need to keep track of all the hours you work and all the pay you receive, as well as whether you had any extra time off to compensate for extra hours worked.
    If you need to pursue a grievance or even a legal claim on this you will need evidence.
    Keep documents like your contracts, payslips, P60, rosters etc in a file. Keep a personal record in a notebook or dairy of your start times, finish time, break times etc.
    Keeping track means being prepared.
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  • Beware of Muggers

    Don't get mugged off by your employer. We've heard some real horror stories mainly from waiting staff of being forced to hand over large sums of money at the end of their shift to cover for walk outs and till shortages. Sometime they've been bullied into handing over more than the received in tips - so they end up paying their employer to work for them. This can also impact on the minimum hourly rate. It's like money with menaces. You also shouldn't have to put up with deductions from pay. If you feel a deduction has been made unfairly or unlawfully you need to challenge it.
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  • Take A Holiday

    Make sure you take all your holiday. Holidays are a legal right and a health and safety requirement. Each year you are in a use them or lose them situation so don't lose them by not taking them.
    Also make sure you get the correct holiday pay. Case law established by your Union means your holiday has to include averages of everything on your payslip including regular compulsory overtime. So this is another reason you should be taking steps to ensure you are paid for every hour you work.
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  • Take Action

    If you feel you are being treated unfairly, cheated our of money your owed, denied your holiday, forced to work through your break - don't suffer in silence -don't hesitate or procrastinate - take action.
    Challenge your employer.
    Get help from the union.
    Get all your information and documentation together and come see us at our weekly surgery from 2pm to 4pm every Monday at Unite House, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn, WC1 X 8TN.
    We'll work with you to build a plan of action to resolve your issues.
    In some cases we'll even build a campaign around the issue.
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  • Make It Collective

    There an old saying - Unity is Strength. And it is never truer than when dealing with issues in the hotel sector. Employers like to try and pressurise and bully workers who attempt to challenge them individually.
    So make your issue collective.
    If you're having problems with hours and pay you can bet that your work colleagues are having the same problem. Talk to them. Get them involved. Get them to meet with the union. Let's build a collective grievance signed by everyone. That way you have strength. That way you can win.
    Meet - Talk - Act - Win!
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  • Make It Union

    Think long term. Resolving an issue is only part of the solution. If you have a strong union in your workplace you can deal with issues effectively through elected union reps who have legal status.
    If a majority of staff join and vote for union recognition then your employer is legally obliged to negotiate.
    These are our 5 union objectives.
    1. A Wage You Can Live On
    2. Safe, Secure Work
    3. Guaranteed hours each week
    4. Training, Development and Career Opportunities
    5. Collective Voice and Union Representation.
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  • You Got The Right

    You have the following legal rights when it comes to challenging unfairness by your employer.
    * You have the right to allege that your employer has breached your statutory employment rights.
    * You have a right to join a trade union.
    * You have a right to seek the services of a union.
    * You have a right to be represented by a union in grievance, discipline and appeal hearings.
    * You have the right to participate in trade union activities.
    * You the right to freely associate with your work colleagues in order to form a union presence in your workplace.
    * You have the right for your union to be recognised based on majority support.
    You have legal protection against victimisation or dismissal by your employer for seeking to exercise these rights. You are protected from day one of your employment.
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