No matter what industry you are in, you’ll encounter good and bad employers over the years. To protect yourself from the bad ones, it’s important to develop some “safety habits” whenever you start a new job.
Here are the key things you need to remember:
1. Get every agreement in writing.
An employer can promise you anything — but you can’t hold him or her to that promise unless you have it in writing.
When your boss makes you a promise, get in the habit of saying something like, “Great! I’ll look forward to signing the agreement.” If an employer suddenly balks about giving you written documentation of an agreement — watch out.
2. Save every scrap of paperwork.
If you end up in a dispute with your employer over any basic issue involving your wages or benefits, you need to have proof to back up your position.
Your employee handbook — which you might be given on the first day on the job — could prove invaluable if you’re trying to make your employer follow his or her own rules. Keep pay stubs, memorandums that update company policies and any other documentation you receive that might later prove useful.
3. Understand your rights.
You can advocate for yourself much more effectively if you know what your rights really are. The United States Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) both offer excellent resources for employees who want to know more about federal laws.
To learn more about specific laws that affect employees in this state, however, you can turn to the Industrial Commission of Arizona for education. They maintain a website with detailed information about your rights as an employee.
If you do run into a conflict with an employer over your entitlement to wages, tips, vacation pay, overtime or some other benefit, consider talking to an attorney early in the process. Waiting until the situation escalates could deprive you of an opportunity to gather important evidence that would support your case if you have to file a lawsuit.