As an employee, there are certain obligations you have to your employer. By agreeing to work for your employer, you are supplying your labour, time and skills and in return they are providing you with payment and other benefits. Both parties to the employment relationship have an obligation to act in good faith to each other. But here are a few obligations for young employees to think about:
You must be present at the workplace and willing to work during your contracted days and hours. Make sure you are on time. You may only be absent for a good reason, such as if you are genuinely sick, or have arranged time off. If you are going to be absent, where possible let your boss or supervisor know before your scheduled start time. By not turning up to work when required, or not letting your employer know that you will be away, you are inconveniencing not only your employer but also your colleagues also who may have to pick up extra work. There will probably be consequences for persistent unarranged absenteeism or lateness.
Employees are obliged to obey any instructions from their employer which are not illegal, are within scope of the job, and not dangerous (unless danger is a recognised part of the job, for example if you are a fireman.)
Some employers have dress standards in keeping with how they want to portray their business. It may mean that you have to dress appropriately, wear a uniform, remove any facial piercings that you may have, if your employer instructs you to.
Employees must possess the skill and knowledge required for the job. These skills must be exercised carefully so as the employer’s assets and property are protected and no other person is harmed. Your employer must make sure that you are trained, or supervised by someone who is trained, in how to carry out your work safely.
Employees must take care when performing their duties. This means doing the job to the best of your abilities. Not only is this good work ethics, there are also financial implications, as you have to repay your employer for any losses caused in the event of any negligence on your part.
And never ever skylark, or play the clown on the job. You could put yourself or others in danger in the workplace.
Employees must behave in a reasonable manner on the job, and in some cases this extends even off the job. Make yourself aware of company rules and policies, such as dress standards, and use of company computers and email facilities. Be careful about what you post on social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter about your employer and your social activities.
For example, John (aged 18) worked for a supermarket. After work one evening, he and some of his workmates popped into the pub across the road for an after work drink. While they were there, they got into an argument with another patron, and a fight between John and the other patron ensued. The patron was a truck driver for the food distribution company that supplies the supermarket John worked for, and he was easily able to identify John and his colleagues as supermarket employees because they were wearing their supermarket uniforms. He complained to the supermarket, and after an investigation, John was instantly dismissed for bringing the supermarket into disrepute and his colleagues reprimanded for their part in the matter.
John raised a personal grievance with his employer, claiming he was dismissed unfairly. He argued that what he did in his personal time was his business, not that of his employer. The matter eventually went as far as the Employment Court, which found that John’s actions had an adverse impact on his employer’s reputation and business as he was identified as being an employee of the supermarket, and his behaviour seriously breached the trust and confidence in the employment relationship. The Court upheld John’s dismissal.
All employees must act “in good faith” whilst performing work for their employer, and this includes:
Additionally, there is a mutual obligation on both employer and employee not to act in contradiction to the trust and confidence which are inherent attributes of any employment relationship. Both parties should act reasonably towards one another in the employment relationship.