Karren Brady's career advice to a woman who doesn't want to cause a fuss at work

Apprentice star and West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady answers your careers questions and meets an inspirational CEO.

She gives advice to a woman who has been on the same contract throughout her time at a company and is stuck between sacrificing weekends and causing a fuss at work.

Q) I’ve worked at my company for a decade and have had the same contract throughout.

However, anyone who’s joined in the last few years has a different contract that has an extra clause in it agreeing to work whatever hours are prescribed by management, even if that means weekends.

HR have asked me to agree to these new conditions, too, but weekends are important to me as I use them to see friends and family.

I don’t want to kick up a fuss, but neither do I want to resent my job. What should do?

Paula, via email

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A) You need to have a conversation with your HR team, asking them to explain what is meant by this clause and what they now expect from you that you can’t do within your current hours.

Ask that they put these changes in writing for you to review as you do not wish to sign a new contract until you fully understand the rationale behind the changes.

You obviously don’t want to fall out with your company, so keep the conversation polite and respectful, but be clear that during this process you will be “working under protest” and send an email each month confirming that this is the case, if needs be.

This means that you are willing to continue working, but that you have not agreed to any changes to your contract.

If you continue to work without signing the new contract, but without using this term, it could be perceived that you have reluctantly agreed to the changes.

If the matter cannot be resolved informally, you could speak to HR about submitting a grievance. Hopefully it won’t get this far, but you shouldn’t be forced to sign something you’re not happy with.

Be a boss

Bossing It is Fabulous’ series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.

It aims to inspire other women and show that if these ladies can do it, so can you!

Read more at Thesun.co.uk/topic/bossing-it.

A Day In The Life…

Dija Ayodele, 32, founded West Room Aesthetics and Black Skin Directory, which connects people of colour to skincare experts and brands. She lives in Kent with her IT company boss husband and their two children.

I wake up at… 4.30am, because I get my best work done with no distractions. I make coffee then answer emails at my desk upstairs.

A normal day for me is… I pack up at 7am when my children wake up, then return to my desk after the school run. Three days a week I’m at my clinic in west London, and before consultations and treatments, I might have brunch with a client or a student I’m mentoring. If I’m at home, I do strategy work – just me and my flip board – from 9am to lunchtime. After lunch, I have one-to-ones with my assistants, calls with my team and brands, then I plough on until 4pm when I pick the kids up from school. I also consult for beauty brands, such as No7, to ensure there is diversity and inclusion. Since Black Lives Matter, the beauty industry has been reaching out more for my expertise, which is positive.

The best thing about my job is… Seeing people get amazing results with skin health. I’ve had emails from women saying: “I’ve taken your website to the doctor and finally been able to get treatment.” Acne, dermatosis papulosa nigra and keloid scarring are common conditions faced by black people and sometimes doctors can’t help because medical degrees are so skewed, the default is white.

And the worst? Dealing with unrealistic skin expectations. People want flawless, filtered skin like they see in the media and they have no patience. Improvement takes time.

I wind down by… After the kids are in bed, I return to my computer to sign off emails. Then I pour a glass of wine, and within half an hour of sitting on the sofa, I’ve conked out! By 10pm, I’ll have a shower then jump into bed. While writing my book I was so busy, I put exercise on hold, but I’m back into two personal-training sessions a week. No more excuses!

Black Skin: The Definitive Skincare Guide by Dija Ayodele (£20, HQ) is out now. Visit Dijaayodele.com. 

  • Compiled by Claire Frost & Gemma Calvert

Karren cannot answer emails personally. Content is intended as general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice

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