Should students be wary of nightclub jobs?
Love socialising and partying, want to get paid for doing just that? What could possibly go wrong..?
Combining your love of socialising with working in a nightclub might sound like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to factor in the late nights, skimpy outfits and uncomfortable situations that go with it.
With tuition fees continuing to rise and maintenance grants now being scrapped, students are under increasing pressure to find a job to support their studies – and finding one that's flexible enough can be a large part of the struggle.
According to the The National Association of Student Employment Services (NASES) students can only really work fifteen hours per week before it begins to affect their studies.
Is nightclub work superficial?
Whilst nightclub work may seem like an attractive proposition, it is important to think about their motive for hiring you.
Many of these jobs often don’t require experience or qualifications, they are based purely on superficial factors such as appearance.
Katie Plummer, a second year student, works as a promo girl at Club Rosso and says she was offered the job on a night out:
I was having a drink and someone came up to me and asked if I’d like a job. Straight away I said yes, although I was wary of what it actually entailed. My boyfriend hated how I was approached, as did I as it’s quite seedy, but I needed a job.
Do your research first
It's important when taking on a job in a nightclub that you establish first what exactly will be required of you, as well as knowing how and when you'll be paid. Many nightclub jobs are paid cash in hand or are even commission based (so you make a cut of the entrance fee of any punters you get through the door, or something similar).
If you're over 25 years old, remember your employer is now legally obliged to pay you the National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour.
David Constance, a career advisor at Solent University, believes it's important to find out as much about the job as you can before you start work.
Find out what the terms and conditions of the job are, what exactly you are getting paid for and what the hours are. We recognise everyone is an adult when they are eighteen and will make their own choices, but make sure the work fits in with your own individual ethics and value systems.
What does nightclub work involve?
As well as bar work, popular jobs in nightclubs include promo work and VIP Hostessing. Working as a VIP Hostess generally involves walking around in hot pants or a short dress and serving drinks to customers in VIP areas.
Depending on your views, this might sound like fun, but it's worth bearing in mind that it can lead to many uncomfortable situations.
Georgie May, a third year student, used to work as a VIP hostess for Oceana and said it was one of the worst jobs she ever had. She reveals:
I had to wear horrible revealing dresses and was put in many horrific situations. There were no doormen allowed in VIP so it could often become scary. I used to be grabbed and abused and nothing used to be done about it as the men were either friends of the boss or people who spent a lot of money in there.
They were never asked to leave whatever they did, which is why I left in the end.
Working in promo can pose many similar problems. A second year student, who worked as a promo girl at Voodoo Lounge, left after just two months. She said:
We were given no training at all, nothing was done or organised properly. It was all cash in hand and a few of us were even getting under paid.
The outfits were very tarty for promo, they basically wanted you wearing nothing. Someone tried it on with me once in front of the owner and kept grabbing me.
However I was just told to do my job properly, without even being asked if I was okay. It was disgusting behaviour.
The Legal bit
Being treated like this in a part-time job is unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated by students on any accord.
Stacey Caine from ACAS, a public body that helps with employment relations, said:
Employers have a duty of care to look after students’ safety and welfare whilst they are at work. If this is not being practiced then employees should follow a grievance procedure.
This involves writing a formal letter to the employer making an official complaint about the way they have been treated, and outlining a solution to the problem. The employer then has fourteen days to arrange a meeting with you to discuss the matter.
If the matter is still not resolved, you should resign from the job and pursue a claim of constructive dismissal, which ACAS can assist you with. This is when an employee is forced to quit their job against their will because of employer’s conduct.
With no pre-agreed code of conduct and wages paid cash in hard, with no guarantee they will even pay up, it is hardly the most attractive job anymore.
However if you still wish to do this kind of work, make sure you are fully aware of what you are getting yourself into and don’t do anything that you are not comfortable with.
It's not all bad
Fortunately, the situations in this article aren't majority cases and there are many UK nightclubs and bars who work hard to protect their staff and pay them well. However, it's crucial that you're aware of your rights and don't allow any employer to take advantage.
Just make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. If someone approaches you in a club and offers you a job, then remember you're being hired purely based on your looks. Do you really want to get a job based on that alone? And more importantly – do you really want to work for a company that hires on those grounds?
Have you worked in a nightclub and found yourself in any uncomfortable situations? Get in touch – we want to hear your story.