Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Employment Advice

Category Archives: Employment Advice

Getting back to employment: can volunteering help you?

Posted on by Action for Social Integration

For more and more people nowadays volunteering has become an important step to employment. Even if you have already had paid jobs in the past, increased competition on the job market would mean that your skills and experiences may not be valued as highly as they would have been previously. Continuous rejections by employers may signal that your CV may need a make-over:  volunteering can help you fix this situation and open a path for you to new and exciting job opportunities!

Can volunteering really help you get a job?

“Yes! 41% of people report that volunteering has helped them get a job”
(Study by Sheffield Volunteer Centre)

“70 per cent of employers would hire a candidate with volunteering experience over someone
 who has never volunteered” 
(Direct Gov.Uk)

How can volunteering help you get a job?

§  Volunteering helps you learn new skills and receive more training which will give you advantage when competing with other candidates for a job position

§  It has a positive effect on your confidence and motivation

§  Volunteering will enable you to create new contacts which can help you find employment in the future (it often happens to be recommended to an employer by someone you have volunteered with)

§  It sends a message to your employers that you are a dedicated and proactive person

Will volunteering affect your benefits?

You can volunteer while you are receiving benefits if the work you do is unpaid and you meet the rules of your benefit. For example if you receive Jobseekers Allowance you must still be actively seeking a full-time job, able to attend job interviews at 48 hours notice and available to work at one week’s notice. You can still receive money from your employer to cover your travel expenses but this does not count as payment and will not affect your benefits.

You should always check with your benefits adviser before you start volunteering. For example, for Council Tax and Housing Benefit contact your local Council, for Jobseeker`s Allowance contact the Jobcentre plus office you are registered with, for other benefits you may have to contact the Pensions Service. For more information on volunteering and your benefits, please follow this link.

Finding a Volunteering Opportunity

The first step to take if you consider starting to work as a volunteer is to register with your nearest Volunteer Centre. The Volunteer Centres are local agencies which help people who would like to volunteer with employers. You can find your nearest centre by clicking here

Another thing to do in your search for volunteering opportunities is to look for positions that may be advertised in local newspapers, the websites of local businesses or community organisations, or in national databases. Please find outlined below a list of websites which you may find useful in your search for volunteering positions:

Do-it (National Volunteering Database)

Guardian Volunteering Jobs

Jobs in Charity Organisations

Volunteering for One-off Events

London.Gov.UK (Volunteering Portal)

 There are various types of businesses and community organisations which offer volunteering opportunities for people at different stages of their professional development. Follow this link to find out more about the different professional areas in which you can gain volunteer experience.

 Where can you find help with finding the right volunteering opportunity for yourself?

UK`s Leading Volunteering and Training Charity. The CVS offers part-time and full-time volunteering opportunities across the UK.

 Can help you decide what you want to do and keep you up to date with the latest volunteering out there.
Telephone: 0845 456 1668

A skilled volunteering charity.

Tel: 020 7582 6543

Offers a wealth of exciting opportunities for young volunteers aged 16-25

Volunteering England
 Offers practical information, advice and guidance on best practice and what you should expect as a volunteer.

The UK’s first exclusively online charity. They guide and support young people, enabling them to make educated life choices, participate in society and achieve their ambitions. They run a variety of projects that you can get involved in.

This article has been published in Issue 5 of Action for Social Integration’s Community Advice E-Newsletter, August 29th 2010

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Dealing with the Rights of Agency Workers

Posted on by Action for Social Integration


Using an employment agency. What are the rights of agency workers?
“Employment agency” is an agency which has a mediating function between yourself and an employer. Employment agencies normally operate in one of the following two ways:

Employment agency TYPE 1: They find work for job-seekers and connect them with employers. In this scenario, job-seekers become employees of the company they have been connected with by the agency; they enter into contract with the company (not the agency) and are paid by that company (not the agency).
Employment agency TYPE 2: Even though the main purpose of the employment agency is still to find work for job-seekers, in this second scenario job-seekers enter into contract with the employment agency itself (not the company they are connected with by the agency). Even after starting to work for a “hiring company”, the employee is still paid by the employment agency and not the company they have been connected with by the agency.  
! Remember, when registering with an employment agency, it is important to ask the agency to confirm whether it will be finding you temporary work with a “hiring company” (TYPE 2: in this case, you will be paid by the agency), or whether it will be finding you permanent employment (TYPE 1: in this case, you will be paid by the company you start working for).
! The term “agency worker”, also called “temps”, only applies to you if you are paid by the employment agency (TYPE 2).

While, as an agency worker you will probably have a “contract for services” with your employment agency, this does not mean you are employed by it. There is no obligation on the agency to find you work and you are also not obliged to accept any work they find you. 
The way employment agencies treat their employees as well as all complaints against employment agencies are normally regulated and dealt with by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. Yet, there are a number of things you need to know in order to be able to recognize that you are not being treated correctly in the first place.

Every employment agency should abide by the following regulations. If it does not, this is unlawful and you should seek to protect your rights:

-must not ask you for money in order to find you work
-must not ask you to pay with your own money for equipment, protective clothing or uniforms unless you are being told in advance and have agreed (but they may charge you for obtaining a Criminal Records Bureau check provided that this has been discussed with you in advance).
-must not make you use and pay for extra services as a condition for finding you work (such as CV preparation)
-must not charge you or penalise you for taking a permanent job with the company they have connected you with
-must not penalise you for registering with other agencies

! Remember that, while an agency can charge you for transport, accommodation or training , you have the right to cancel or withdraw from the service provided that you give a 10 working day written notice for cancellation of accommodation, and 5 working days notice for cancellation of all other services. 

+must inform you in writing about your payment rate, the terms and conditions of your contract, length of notice, and the type of work they will find for you. Upon being offered a position by a hiring company, the agency must provide you with written details of the job, the length of your employment and your salary.
+must pay for all work you have undertaken even if it has not been paid by the hiring company and even if you have failed to produce a signed timesheet.
! Remember that agency workers, also called “temps”, short-term casual workers and some freelancers have slightly different employment rights from common “employees”. Unlike “employees”, agency workers are not entitled to redundancy pay or to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

A summary of these points could be found in this workers` rights Booklet, displayed on the governmental information website Direct.Gov.
For advice with problems you might have with using an employment agency, you can contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368 (The Pay and Work Rights Helpline`s staff accepts enquiries in more than 100 languages, so feel free to request a speaker of your native language). Alternatively, you can register your problem and request information and guidance using this Online Enquiry Form

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Dealing with “unfair dismissal”

Posted on by Action for Social Integration


I am being made redundant but I don`t think this is fair. How to recognise and deal with “unfair dismissal”?

There are a number of reasons for losing your job which could be unfair: for example pregnancy, your age and gender, or if your employer has dismissed you even though there has been no problem with your job performance. The term “unfair dismissal” is used to denote that either (1) your employer`s reasons for dismissing you have been unfair or discriminatory, or that (2) the procedure he has followed in dismissing you has been unfair.

For FREE, confidential and impartial advice on your employment rights telephone the ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) at 0845 7474 747.
If you believe you have been dismissed unfairly, you will need to make a claim for unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal. Call the Employment Tribunal Enquiry line at 0845 795 9775 to find out where your local Employment Tribunal office is. Ask your local office for free advice on how to make a claim for unfair dismissal and order a claim form.

! Remember that you can only make a claim to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months from the date when you have been dismissed.

! Depending on your circumstances, a successful claim for unfair dismissal may enable you to secure “redundancy payment” compensation or a compensation for loss of earnings. To find out what your redundancy payment could be click here.
 Find out when a dismissal relating to your working times is unfair.
If you believe you have been dismissed unfairly due to pregnancy or issues relating to your maternity leave, you can easily find out what your maternity rights and entitlements are by filling it the following short questionnaire: http://www.direct.gov.uk/maternity.dsb

Legal Advice E-Newsletter
Issue 1, April 23 2010

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Our Vision and Services

Our vision is of a society where no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health.

Mental health problems are extremely common across society, with one in four of us experiencing them in any year. Despite being so common, people from all communities will still experience discriminatory attitudes and behaviours that can prevent people from speaking out, seeking support and playing full and active roles in our communities. The impact of mental health stigma and discrimination will vary between communities as mental health has a cultural context that affects the way communities talk about the subject and engage with people who have mental health problems. In some cultures depression, for example, doesn't exist and in others an experience of a mental health problem can be attached to a sense of shame.

For the African and Caribbean communities a key issue is the overrepresentation of young African and Caribbean men in mental health services. Misconceptions and stereotypes have led to a perception that this group is more likely to pose a risk of violent behaviour and, as a result, they are more likely to be treated as inpatients and sectioned when compared to other groups. It is well documented that this has led to a fear of talking about mental health issues more openly and a fear of using mental health services. Research by the Race Equality Foundation (2011) also highlighted fears that discrimination against Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and migrant service users will increase in the austerity climate and whilst commissioning arrangements change.

Our Services

· Provide information, advice, advocacy

· Represent diversity communities in Health Care services, policies and strategies

· Organise training in health and social care in collaboration with local colleges

· Provide human resources ( including interpreters) who are suitable to the diversity communities especially to break language and cultural barriers

· Provides domiciliary care and support

· Provide services such specialised support for people with mental health needs, including people who suffer from short-term memory problems, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

· Provide visits to elderly people and help them with outings and home services

· Participate in local authority and NHS consultations , research events and programmes to voice the needs of diversity communities.

· Increase access to services and rights for disadvantaged people and the most vulnerable of our society

· Help and support unemployed people to look for work, including training and job preparation

· Provide legal advice in a range of issues from on Immigration and Asylum , welfare benefits, housing, health, education, community care, and training, employment, etc.

· Provide advice and guidance, information and practical help so that our service users can access opportunities they are entitled to

· Organise training and other community learning opportunities that provide new skills, increase confidence and motivation

· Support our service users to overcome barriers to learning, employment and training

· Provide support for young people with their education, training, confidence building, employment and social needs.

Objectives of our Diversity Living Programme:

· To promote the inclusion and participation of diversity communities* in integrated care.

· To inform policy, locally and nationally, and assisting in the formulation of effective policies, strategies and good practices in integrated care in order to contribute to improved health outcomes for the people from the diversity communities (e.g. Black and minority ethnic communities) and to ensure health services are able to meet their specific needs.

· To improve the quality of life for diversity people with disability, mental health problems and their families and carers through integrated care by providing inclusive advocacy and information.

· To provide service that enable diversity groups and individuals with disability /elderly and their carers to make the right choice for themselves and have an influence on decisions made about their future.

· To promote the rights of diversity people with disability, their families and carers and make sure their rights are safe and protected.

· To promoting access to information regarding healthcare issues and to raise awareness of the needs of diversity disabled children, young people, older people and their families.

· To promote the rights of older and disabled diversity people, helping them overcome and enable them to participate in decisions about their future

· To provide support and information to those suffering the isolation and loneliness that can be associated with disability and old age

· To fight against mental health stigma in refugee, black and minority ethnic communities and ensure no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of their mental health or disability.

*Diversity communities are older people, disabled people, Black, Asian, refugees, migrants, asylum seekers and other ethnic minorities.