Job offers, contracts, and starting work

Great news, you’ve got that job! Here are some key things you need to know about now.

The final stages of getting a job require a lot of paperwork. Your new employer will need your personal details, including your bank details, a copy of your passport (or other photo ID), and your National Insurance number.

What to expect when you get a job offer

  1. Get it in writing – you might get a phone call to offer you that job, but it’s not official until you get it in writing. Most companies will send you an offer letter to go with the verbal offer. Wait until you receive the offer in writing before you do anything.
  2. Check the details – your offer letter should include important points such as your job title, your salary, hours of work, any bonuses or benefits you may be entitled to, holidays/annual leave, and your official starting date. During the interview process, you may have been told some of these so double check the letter fits with what you were told, or what was in the job advert. These things are important, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with the employer to raise any queries at this stage. Check your rights as an employee.
  3. Contracts – when you start working, there should be a contract between you and your employer. The contract covers your basic rights at work and the terms of your employment. Contracts are not necessarily provided in writing or signed, however you should receive a written statement of employment within two months of your start date, with your rate of pay, the number of holiday days you get, the hours you should be working per week, and the notice that must be given if either you or your employer wants to end your contract. If you don't get one, ask your employer about it. If you're doing an apprenticeship, you must have a written contract that is signed by your employer.
  4. Probationary period – when you start a new job, you will most certainly be ‘on probation’ for the first few months, but this can sometimes be six months or longer. A probation period is a two-way process: it ensures you have made the right choice and that you fit in with the culture of the organisation, as well as giving your employer the opportunity to assess your performance and ensure you meet the requirements of the role. Having a job description which clearly states what is expected of you, against which your performance can be measured, makes life much easier for everyone. It is important to know when and how you will be appraised, and the criteria against which such judgements will be made. Your performance, attendance, and punctuality will certainly be assessed, so try to optimise these. Find out more about employment contracts.
  5. Info you need to provide to your employer:
    • Address and contact details – your home address and telephone contact details. Remember to let them know if your address changes as a result of you moving to start the job, or during your employment.
    • National Insurance number – when you start working, you'll need to give your employer the National Insurance number you received from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You will have received a National Insurance number card or notification letter when you reached the age of 16.
    • Bank details – most employers pay their staff salaries or wages directly into the employees’ bank accounts, so you will need to provide these details to get paid!
    • Personal ID – you may be asked to provide personal identification documents such as your passport, birth certificate, and visa (if you are an international student).  The employer will let you know if you need to provide original documents for them to copy.
    • Emergency contacts – employers will ask you for contact details of ‘next of kin’ – that’s someone, such as a parent or family member, who they can contact in an emergency situation.
    • Tax info – when you become an employee, your employer is responsible for deducting income tax and National Insurance from your salary before you receive it. This system is called pay as you earn (PAYE). If you're starting your first job and don't have a P45 (a record of your pay and employment history), your employer will give you a P46 form to fill in and sign. HM Revenue and Customs will process your P46, and issue a tax code to you, and a copy of the coding notice to your employer, who'll use it to work out how much tax to deduct from your pay.

What your first day might look like

You’ll be a mix of excited and nervous turning up at work on your first day. While it will differ from job to job and place to place, here’s what a first day may involve. The first week is really about learning the ropes and settling in, and your new colleagues will be there to help and advise you – don’t panic!

  • Introductions – at some point, you’ll be taken on a tour of the office or building. Find out where the kitchen/restaurant and other facilities are, and have a chance to meet key people and the various teams. Don’t worry if you can’t remember everyone’s name – they will understand. Just say something like 'I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name', or ‘Can you please remind me what you do again?'.
  • Meeting your manager – your new manager or a personnel rep will introduce you to the people you’ll be working with and take you through what you’ll be doing on a daily basis. Your team colleagues will help you settle in and get up and running with logins and email access. It’s worth noting any questions that crop up during your first day about your responsibilities, or how things work, and remember to ask your line manager.
  • There will probably be forms to fill in – human resources (HR) or personnel reps will probably have some forms for you to fill in, and you may need to give them your National Insurance number or bank details, if you haven’t already provided these. You may be given various documents about company policies to look at about joining a company pension scheme – you should take a bit of time to look into this carefully.
  • Induction – most companies will use your first day or few days as an 'induction'.  This is usually a planned programme run by HR to help you find out about how the organisation works, its policies, how the probation, appraisal, and performance review processes work, how any facilities work, and how you, in your new role, fit in. This is the best opportunity to ask any questions about the job and your employer, so if you do have any worries or concerns, it's a good idea to raise them during your induction.
  • Health and safety information – your employer has a responsibility to look after your health and safety at work, so you should be told about any risks you may come across in your place of work, and where all the safety equipment is. This should include:
    • where the fire exits are
    • where you can find the first aid kit
    • whether you need any special clothing or protection to do certain parts of your job
    • how to use specialist equipment. If you're working in a kitchen or workshop, your work may mean using equipment that can be dangerous. Before letting you use any pieces of equipment, your employer should make sure you're fully trained on how to use it safely