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5 tips to deal with a sh*tty boss

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Reading time

5 minutes

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Unfortunately, a good boss can be a rare thing. We’ve come up with 5 dog acts that sh*tty bosses are often guilty of – and what you can do about it if it’s stressing you.

What’s the actual difference between casual and permanent work?

Casual work might have a higher hourly rate (often up to 25% more) and seem more flexible, but here’s the trade-off for those ‘perks’, and why employers prefer casuals.

Permanent workers can be part-time or full-time, but what they both have – that casuals don’t – is paid sick leave, paid annual leave and secure hours. It means that if you need or want to take some time off work, it won’t be a drama.

When your boss…

… gives you practically no notice before changing or cancelling a shift

You’ve planned your week around work, maybe study and catching up with friends, when your boss suddenly messes it all up. Do you know your rights? If you’re on a contract, it should tell you how much notice your boss is required to give you for an extra or cancelled shift. 

If you don’t know what your conditions are, you can first ask your boss and if they don’t come through you can contact your union. But when it comes to regular shift times, if you’ve been working the same shifts for over 6 months, you can now ask your boss to make you permanent. That means regular hours, job security and paid leave – and no more sudden changes!  

When your boss…

… is a micromanager

When your boss asks you to do something but then starts interfering with the way you’re doing it, chances are they’re a micromanager.

Micromanagers are control freaks and they don’t give you any autonomy over your work. It can feel patronising or like they think you don’t know how to do your job. 

If your boss won’t get out of your face, you can ask them to clarify your role (and the tasks you’re expected to do without supervision). This is usually enough to get them to back off, at least for a while. If you don’t have a contract, you should ask for one.

When your boss…

… uses body shaming, sexist, racist or generally phobic language

It can be really uncomfortable – and offensive – having to listen to inappropriate language and attitudes from someone who has control over your employment.

But all workers have a right to a safe and inclusive workplace environment. You probably feel intimidated about addressing your boss’s bigotry directly, but you have every right to ask what the workplace diversity and inclusivity policy is, and for it to be displayed in the staff area.

When your boss…

… pressures you to work faster

There’s only so much you can do in a day, especially when you’re understaffed. If your boss is asking you to do too many things at once or squash too much into a shift, you should explain to them what you think is achievable.

You might have to break down tasks and estimate how long each takes so that you can explain it to them clearly. Your boss wants bang for their buck, but that’s not your problem. If they need work done faster, they probably need to employ more staff. 

When your boss…

… is a bully

If you feel intimidated by your boss, there are things you can do to stand up for yourself. They might be talking down to you, shouting at you, blaming you for things you have no control over. None of this behaviour is acceptable in the workplace, no matter how big or small a business it is.  

It’s wise to keep a detailed record of every interaction where you are being bullied. Make sure you include what your boss said, the date, time, if there were any people who saw or heard the bullying take place. If you’re asked to meet with your boss, ask a trusted work mate to come with you so you’ve got some support. If the bullying continues, contact your union.

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