The law on minimum pay & Dealing with office emails – IELTS General Reading Passage

Read the text below and answers to the questions 15-27 on your answer sheet.

You should take around 20 minutes to complete this task.

GT Reading Sample – “The law on minimum pay” & “Dealing with your office emails”

Read the passage below and answer Questions 15-21.

The law on minimum pay

Who is entitled to minimum pay?
Nearly all workers aged 16 years and over, including part-time workers, are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Amongst those to whom it does not apply are those engaged in unpaid work and family members employed by the family business.

What is the minimum wage that I am entitled to?
The National Wage Act specifies the minimum rates of pay applicable nationwide. Since 1 October 2007, the adult rate for workers aged 22 and over has been £5.25 per hour. The development rate for 18-21 year olds and for workers getting training in the first 6 months of a job is £4.60 per hour. The rate for 16-17 year olds starts at £3.40 an hour. There are special provisions for some workers, for example, those whose job includes accommodation. Pay means gross pay and includes any items paid through the payroll such as overtime, bonus payments, commission and tips and gratuities.

I believe I’m being paid below the National Minimum Wage Rate. How can I complain?

If you are being paid less than this, there are various steps you can take:

• If you feel able, you should talk directly with your employer. This is a clear legal right, and employers can be fined for not paying the NMW.
• If you are a trade union member, you should call in the union.
• If neither of these is appropriate then you can email via the Revenue and Customs website or call their helpline for advice.

You have the legal right to inspect your employer’s pay records if you believe, on reasonable grounds, that you are being paid less than the NMW. Your employer is required to produce the records within 14 days, and must make them available at your place of work or at some other reasonable place. If your employer fails to produce the records, you may take the matter to an employment tribunal. You must make your complaint within three months of the ending of the 14-day notice period.

Questions 15-21
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the text for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 15-21 on your answer sheet.

15.  The law on minimum pay doesn’t cover you if you are working in your …………………… or if you are a volunteer.
16.  You may be paid under £5 an hour if you are receiving …………………… at the start of a job.
17.  There are different rules for people who are provided with …………………… with their jobs.
18.  If you earn extra money, for example, for working longer hours or in tips, this counts as part of your wage when you receive it via …………………… .
19.  Anyone being paid below the National Minimum Wage should speak to their  …………………… if they can.
20.  According to the law, you can ask to look at your boss’s …………………… .
21.  You have a period of …………………… to complain if your boss does not co-operate within the specified period of time.   

Read the text below and answer Questions 22-27.

Dealing with your office emails

Email has completely changed the way we work today. It offers many benefits and, if used well, can be an excellent tool for improving your own efficiency. Managed badly, though, email can be a waste of valuable time. Statistics indicate that office workers need to wade through an average of more than 30 emails a day. Despite your best efforts, unsolicited email or spam can clutter up the most organised inbox and infect your computer system with viruses. Here we give you guidance on protecting yourself.

Prioritising incoming messages
If you are regularly faced with a large volume of incoming messages, you need to prioritise your inbox to identify which emails are really important. If it is obvious spam, it can be deleted without reading. Then follow these steps for each email:

•   Check who the email is from. Were you expecting or hoping to hear from the sender? How quickly do they expect you to respond?
•   Check what the email is about. Is the subject urgent? Is it about an issue that falls within your sphere of responsibility, or should it just be forwarded to someone else?
•   Has the email been in your inbox for long? Check the message time.

An initial scan like this can help you identify the emails that require your prompt attention. The others can be kept for reading at a more convenient time.

Replying in stages
Having prioritised your emails, you can answer them in stages, first with a brief acknowledgement and then a more detailed follow-up. This is particularly advisable when dealing with complicated matters where you don’t want to give a rushed answer. If you decide to do this, tell the recipient a definite date when you’ll be able to get back to him or her and try to keep to this wherever possible.

Some emails are uncomplicated and only require a brief, one line answer, so it’s a good idea to reply to these immediately. For example, if all you need to say is, ‘Yes, I can make the 10.00 meeting’, or ‘Thanks, that’s just the information I needed’, do it. If you are unable to reply there and then or choose not to, let the sender know that you’ve received the message and will be in touch as soon as possible.

Questions 22-27
Complete the flowchart below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 22-27 on your answer sheet.

15. family business
16. training
17. accommodation
18. payroll// the payroll
19. employer// employers
20. pay records
21. 3 months // three months
22. spam // obvious spam
23. message time
24. prompt attention
25. reply immediately
26. brief acknowledgement
27. date // definite date