It’s been a while since I’ve done a full on sweary ranty rant, so this is your warning. Bad language is about to ensue, 18+ only pal.

*disclaimer this post does not refer to any of my jobs, past or present, just general observations on workplace culture generally.*

Fucking start saying no.

NO I will not work late

NO I don’t want to go X place, I don’t like it

NO I don’t agree with you.

NO I will not work through my lunch break

NO I will not accept you treating me this way

NO I don’t feel like hanging out, can we do it another time?

NO I cannot do you X favour

NO you cannot speak to me like that

NO this makes me uncomfortable

NO that’s not appropriate

NO I will not do this extra shift

NO I will not come in today to cover X person off for X reason

NO I will go home because I’m feeling sick, I am not asking permission to be ill

Are you a people pleaser? A people fixer? Or just generally the one that’s easily trodden on or forgotten. The, if there’s three people walking together on the side walk then I’m behind or in the road, kind of friend in the group? Then left me introduce to the power of the word no. Set boundaries with your friends (but don’t be a dick about it, it’s about resetting an imbalance you have, not alienating that friend) and if they react poorly, then you will learn a lot. Same for relationships, if your partner cannot respect the word no, even just within small every day shit, then that’s a giant fucking red flag.

Most importantly, my millennial pals (probably not you Gen z because you apparently have balls of steel) let me introduce you to the power of saying no in the workplace. Is it my contract? Nope? THEN I”M NOT FUCKING DOING IT:

-Take on extra responsibilities without it being reflected in my pay or title, to ‘show management I am capable of doing it’ AKA DO THIS WORK FOR US ON THE CHEAP WHILE WE DANGLE A PROMOTION IN FRONT OF YOU FOR MONTHS ON END?
No. Fuck off.

-Turn up early, work through lunch breaks, work later, until you’re doing almost 20 hours on top of your contracted hours, to ‘show your dedication’ STATISTICALLY PAL THE WORK YOU’LL GET OUT OF ME IN THAT EXTRA TIME WILL BE ABSOLUTE DOG SHIT, LET ME HAVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
No. Fuck off.

-Refuse me things like holiday, sick pay, time off for dependants, time off to help deal with personal matters or family problems? OOPS I READ THE COMPANY POLICY PAL, I KNOW MY LEGAL RIGHTS PAL, CAN’T WAIT TO SPEAK TO HR- ME AND DEBBIE ARE ABOUT TO BECOME PEN PALS.
Big no no. Off you fuck.

– am I meeting my deadlines? Am I doing everything within the remit of my job description? If I am capable of doing my work load within my contracted hours, then why do I need to give you extra time for free? Alternatively, if my work load is so high that I cannot complete it within my working hours, then perhaps this requires a review and the team’s roles and responsibilities given some extra thought? What benefits will the extra or special projects and responsibilities give me in my career with your company?
-Ask these questions and never forget you are within your rights to say no.

We are not America and the only way to resist increasing attempts to make UK work places follow American models, is to know your rights and use the power of the word no. There is surplus of people needing jobs and our employers do not value us right now, so we’re easy to take advantage of; in the name of ‘experience’, in the name of ‘earning your stripes’, in the name of ‘showing your dedication’. They will take take take take and give you absolutely fucking nothing in return. Most workplaces do nothing to encourage loyal employees. It is not enough to get the ‘bit of paper’, get the relevant industry experience (which is bloody hard, as there’s a generation above us also scrabbling for jobs), they want and can demand more and more from you for less money because if you’re not willing to, someone else will.

Employee rights in the UK are quite good. Make sure you read your contract before signing it. Make sure you read company policy’s before you start. Make sure you’re aware of what you’re legally entitled to. Protect yourself so that, as per their own policies, you have committed no misconduct and they cannot fire you. If you’re given targets to meet but miss out the promotion to the guy who does two hours extra either ends of his day, query it, start saying no to this bull shit!

And to the Keith’s and Karen’s out there, this isn’t about snowflake bullshit, this is about demanding the same rights and opportunities as Keith over there, for whom turning up early and creating a big stink about it was enough to garner promotions and praise in his day. After all, he walked into the entry level job at sixteen, which paid enough to afford a mortgage at 18, with no qualifications or work experience but he ‘did his time’ and ‘worked his way up’ so why can’t you?

No. Fuck off.