Karren Brady's career advice — from unemployment to disparity in pay

APPRENTICE star and vice-chairperson of West Ham FC Karren Brady answers all your careers questions.

Today she helps out someone who is struggling with unemployment following a divorce and addresses the issue of disparity in pay.

Q) I owned a business with my husband before we separated a few years ago.

We both continued to work for the company for the next 12 months, but then I received a text saying I was being dismissed with no notice period, and my ex later demanded I sign my shares over to him.

He’s since closed the business and opened a new one with a different name. I’ve been left with no job and no income – how can I move forward?

Name withheld

A) A marriage breakdown can be a very messy process without the extra complication of valuing and splitting business assets. If you haven’t already, I would suggest seeking advice from a family lawyer.

If you are not divorced, you may wish to take this final step, as it will include an assessment of both your financial standings, including whether the company you set up together was a “matrimonial asset” to be divided on divorce or dissolution.

Even if your ex has dissolved the old business and set up a new one, I would argue that as a founder of the company you are entitled to half of what the original business was worth when he closed it.

Meanwhile, you need to think about what you want for your future so you can start to move forward. You have owned a business, so you have skills an employer would value, and if you want to set up your own business in the future, you need an income now.

Freshen up your CV, get on LinkedIn, start networking and looking for work. You’ll feel more focused and positive once you become financially independent again.

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.

Q) My boss accidentally sent me an email about individuals in our team’s performance and their bonuses.

I replied, alerting her to the fact she might not have meant to send it to me, and she apologised and asked me to delete the message.

I did so, but I’d already read through the figures and seen that the person my boss is most friendly with on our team is getting the biggest bonus, despite them doing their job equally well as me.

I’m furious, but don’t know how to approach things as the figures were clearly confidential. Help!

Bianca, via email

A) I understand this is frustrating, but you should wait until you have calmed down before addressing it – as it needs to be a professional conversation.

While you may think the larger bonus your colleague received is because of their personal relationship with your boss, it could be that there are factors you are not aware of.

Request a meeting with HR to talk you through the bonus process.

Many companies divide their bonus structure into several qualifying parts: overall company performance (everyone should score the same), individual KPIs that can be measured (eg, if you hit 82% of your sales target, you would get 82% of this part of your bonus), along with a third part that could include more subjective goals based on your performance and development.

Ask your HR manager to explain how your bonus is worked out, and how you could achieve the maximum in the future.

Then ask your boss to talk you through her reasoning for scoring you as she did, and get her to pinpoint what you need to do to score higher next year.  

Compiled by: Claire Frost

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

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