Is Your Employer Taking Advantage Of You?

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Most people would say that, from time to time, they feel frustrated with their jobs. This is totally natural and is just a normal part of everyday life. After all, if a job were always easy, then it wouldn’t be called work. However, there are times when that shifts towards something a little more significant and potentially problematic. If you start to feel as though your time at work is very unpleasant every single day, then that could well be a symptom of a much larger and more serious problem. This is especially true if you start to feel as though the negativity in your job is coming directly from your employer. Dealing with colleagues who are unpleasant is never fun, but at least it’s direct. The feeling that your employer is perhaps taking advantage of you or is having a direct hand in making your time at work unpleasant is often one that most people don’t want to confront since it can feel as though it’s a problem that’s so big that you couldn’t possibly deal with it yourself. However, your wellbeing when you’re at work, and the happiness you feel in your career are too important to let them fall to one side. With that in mind, here is a simple guide to help you deal with an employer who seems to be trying to take advantage of you.

How can you tell?

One of the toughest things about being taken advantage of by an employer is that it can often be incredibly difficult to be aware that it’s even happening. A lot of the time the methods that employers use are so subtle that a lot of employees don’t even notice, outside of a vague feeling that they are unhappy with their job. But being able to recognize the signs is incredibly important. Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself in order to figure out if your employer is taking advantage of you.

Are you being forced to work overtime?

Every so often, a business will get to the point where things are so busy that people are required to start working some extra hours. This is a pretty standard practice, and it’s hardly a human rights violation. The important thing is that overtime is rare, compensated, and, most crucially of all, voluntary. You should never have to work beyond your contracted hours if you don’t want to or your personal life makes it impossible. However, there are employers who will try to make their employees take on overtime against their will. Sure they can’t explicitly say that they will fire you if you don’t take on overtime, but that just means that they methods that they use are generally more subtle than that. They will do things like denying you overtime when you do ask for it. Or offering benefits to those who take overtime and not offering them to you. These things are subtle, but they send a very clear message to anyone who doesn’t take on extra work. “If you don’t tow the line, then you’re not part of the team.” Employers also make a point to encourage peer pressure among colleagues. They will say that you not taking on overtime makes everyone else’s lives harder, setting up an unpleasant dynamic in the workplace.

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Are other people getting paid more than you?

People are often incredibly reticent to discuss money with each other in modern society. The problem is that employers can often take advantage of this to get away with paying people unfairly. Despite the fact that it is against the law, there are plenty of occasions where there’s a pretty significant wage gap between different employees. Get into the habit of discussing your wages openly with one another. Instead of getting angry at each other for getting paid more or less, get angry at your employer for attempting to underpay certain people for doing the exact same work as everyone else. By being open with each other, it makes it that much harder for your employer to pull the wool over your eyes.

What can you do?

Even if you are aware that your employer isn’t treating you fairly, that doesn’t mean that your problems are automatically solved. A lot of people really struggle to figure out what they can do about it. This is often because employers like this tend to bank on the fact that you feel like you have no power while they have all of the power and control. The most important thing for you to understand is that this isn’t true. As an employee, you have rights that need to be respected. If your employer isn’t respecting those rights, then you are definitely in a position to push back against them and confront them about it. It can be scary to stand up to your employer, especially when you’ve spent so long being treated so poorly, but it’s important to stand your ground. Here are some of the things that you can do in order to deal with being mistreated by your employer.

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Confrontation

The first thing that you should do if you feel as though you’re treated unfairly is to try and deal with it in-house. Speak to the HR department at your workplace and discuss what you feel is happening and they ways in which you feel like your rights are being violated. They will be able to guide you in the right direction and help you understand if there is anything happening that it in violation of your contract. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should storm into your boss’s office and demand better treatment. Being aggressive is only going to put your employer in a position where they can frame the whole situation as your fault. The important thing is to express the facts calmly and rationally and to go through all of the relevant channels so that you are as fully protected by the law as possible.

Legal recourse

Of course, there are always going to be situations where you simply can’t deal with these things within the workplace. This could be because the issue is so severe that you need to go straight to legal proceedings, or it could be that the HR department of your business is refusing to acknowledge a legitimate grievance. Either way, taking things to court can be an incredibly intimidating and complex process for a lot of people. It’s a good idea to hire an attorney as early on in the process as possible. This is because trying to wade through pages upon pages of legal jargon by yourself can be incredibly difficult and confusing. Of course, not everyone can afford to pay legal fees. If you’re in that position, then you should check out this guide from Thrivest that can help you understand lawsuit funding, something that can help you afford many of the fees involved in a case against your employer. Once again, the most important thing is to be as rational as possible. Remember, the law is on your side.

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Moving on

One of the hardest things for a lot of people is the fact that they might never get the justice that they need. Sure, you can go through all of the right channels but even then there’s a small chance that your employer will be able to get away with treating you, and anyone else, very poorly. A lot of the time the only real way to deal with this is to walk away. If you leave the company, then you’re going to be in a position to take back control of the situation and to go and find somewhere that will treat you better and value you more highly as both an employee and as a person. Even if you do manage to get justice against your employer, there’s a pretty good chance that the entire situation left such an awful taste in your mouth that you’re not going to want to deal with your employer anymore no matter what. When that happens, then you can simply walk away, safe in the knowledge that you’ve potentially created a safer and more supportive environment for anyone who comes in to replace you. You’ve let your employer know that they can’t get away with treating their employees badly or taken advantage of anyone ever again.

Even when you’re fully equipped to face them, dealing with an employer who isn’t treating you fairly can be an extremely daunting experience. The most important thing to remember is that, as long as you’ve done your research, there’s a good chance that the law is on your side. As long as you stay calm and express yourself openly and clearly, you’ll be able to fight against your treatment and, whether you stay with that company or not, you’ll be able to come out of it being treated much better overall. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter how big the company that you work for is, each and every individual within that company has rights, and those rights need to be respected no matter what.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.