above and beyond the call of duty

If a person does something which is above and beyond the call of duty, they show a greater degree of courage or effort than is usually required or expected in their job.
“The fire-fighter received a medal for his action which went above and beyond the call of duty.

back-room boys

The term back-room boys refers to people who do important work but have no contact with the public.
Back-room boys don’t always receive the credit they deserve for their work.”

brain drain

The departure of highly qualified people (scientists, engineers, etc.) for other countries, where they have better opportunities and usually better pay, is called the brain drain.

busman’s holiday

A busman’s holiday is when you spend your spare time or your holidays doing the same sort of activity as you do in your job.
“My husband is a chef, so for him time off with the family is often a busman’s holiday!”

cream of the crop

The expression cream of the crop refers to the best people or things in a particular group.
“As usual, the cream of the crop of this year’s graduates were offered the best jobs.”

dead end job

A dead end job is a position with no prospects or opportunities for the future.
“For the moment I’m stuck in a dead end job but I’m hoping to find something better.”

dead wood

The term dead wood refers to people or things that are no longer considered useful or necessary.
“The new manager wants to reduce costs by cutting out the dead wood.”

on the dole

A person who receives financial assistance from the government when they are unemployed is on the dole.
“Their father is on the dole so the family is living on a tight budget.”

dream ticket

If you refer to two people as a dream ticket, you think they would work well together and be successful.
“Two world champions teaming up for the children’s fund-raising project would be a dream ticket.”

duty bound

If you are duty bound to do something, you are required to do it as part of your obligations.
“Teachers are duty bound to report a pupil’s absence from school.”

earn while you learn

The expression earn while you learn refers to the possibility of earning a salary while in training.
“Become an apprentice and get paid while in training. Earn while you learn!”

firing line

Someone who is in the firing line is in a position to be criticized because of their responsibilities or the position they hold.
“The managing director of the bank is in the firing line since the fraud was discovered.”

get the axe

If someone gets the axe, they lose their job.
When a company is restructured, the senior staff are often the first to get the axe.”

golden handcuffs

The term golden handcuffs refers to a large sum of money or a generous financial arrangement granted to an executive as an incentive to stay in their job, or to ensure long-term cooperation after their departure.

golden handshake

A golden handshake is a generous sum of money given to a person when they leave a company or retire (sometimes given to encourage early retirement).

golden parachute

A golden parachute is a clause in an executive’s employment contract stating that the executive will receive certain large benefits if their employment is terminated.

glass ceiling

This term refers to a discriminatory barrier perceived by women and minorities that prevents them from rising to positions of power or responsibility.
“Claire knew she would never break the glass ceiling and rise to a senior management position.”

number cruncher

This is a humorous way of referring to someone who is an accountant or who is very good at working with numbers and calculations.
“She’s a number cruncher who perfectly understands the organisation’s financial situation.”

learn the ropes

If you learn the ropes, you learn how to do a particular job correctly.
“He’s bright. It won’t take him long to learn the ropes.”

(be) paid peanuts

If you are paid peanuts, you have a very low salary or are paid very little for the work you do.
“Jenny has a very interesting job, but she’s paid peanuts.”

play second fiddle

If you play second fiddle to another person, you accept to be second in importance to that person, or have a lower position.
“John resented having to play second fiddle to the sales manager when the company was restructured.”

(a) plum job

A desirable position which is well-paid and considered relatively easy is called a plum job.
“Ideally he’d like to find himself a plum job in New York.”

pound the pavement

Someone who pounds the pavement walks the streets or goes from company to company, usually in search of employment.
(You can also pound the pavement in an effort to raise funds or gain support for a cause.)
“Charlie is out there pounding the pavement since he lost his job.”

put out to pasture

To say that someone has been put out to pasture means that they have been forced to retire or give up their responsibilities.
“He’s in good health and he feels it’s too early to be put out to pasture.”

be sacked / get the sack

If someone is sacked or gets the sack, they lose their job, usually because they have done something wrong.
“Charlie got the sack when his boss caught him stealing.”

separate the sheep from the goats

If you separate the sheep from the goats, you examine a group of people and decide which are suitable and which are not.
“Examining job applications is the first stage in separating the sheep from the goats.”

shape up or ship out

This expression is used to warn someone that if they do not improve, they will have to leave their job.
“When Tom started neglecting the customers, he was told to shape up or ship out.

show someone the ropes

If you show someone the ropes, you teach or explain to them how to do a particular job.
“The manager is busy showing the ropes to two new trainees.”

another string to your bow

If you have another string to your bow, you have another skill or possible course of action if everything else fails.
“As well as her excellent qualifications, she’s got another string to her bow to help her find a job. She speaks fluent Chinese.”

tricks of the trade

This term refers to a clever or expert way of doing things, especially in a job.
“He’s a tough negotiator; he knows all the tricks of the trade.”

waiting in the wings

If someone is waiting in the wings, they are waiting for an opportunity to take action, especially to replace someone else in their job or position.
“There are many young actors waiting in the wings ready to show their talent.”

walking papers

If you are given your walking papers, your contract or a relationship has ended.
“After causing a diplomatic incident, Carter got his walking papers.”

work to rule

During a conflict, when employees decide to do only the minimum amount of work required by company rules, and refuse any overtime, etc., they work to rule.
“In protest against the new measures, the employees decided to work to rule.”

worth one’s salt

Someone who deserves respect because they do their job well is a person who is worth their salt.
“Any inspector worth their salt would have checked the papers carefully.”

xerox subsidy

Th term ‘xerox subsidy’ refers to the habit of using the photocopier at work for personal use.
“A certain percentage of photocopies are in fact xerox subsidies.”