In order to help you understand your rights at work, and to help you in the case of a disagreement or issue with your employer, we’ve put together this handy guide for you.
Types of Employee Rights
As an employee of a company, you are entitled to certain legal rights. These rights help protect you in your workplace, and also make sure your employer works to the standards set by UK law.
You have two types of rights at work:
- your statutory rights
- and your rights under your contract of employment
Your contractual rights
It’s important to remember that your contract of employment can’t take away any employee rights that you have been given by law.
So for example, if your employment contract says that you’re only entitled to two weeks of paid holiday per year when, by law, all full-time UK employees are entitled to four weeks’ paid holiday per year, this means that part of your contract is void and doesn’t apply. The law supersedes that part of the contract, and the right to four weeks’ paid holiday applies instead.
However, if your contract gives you more rights than you have under UK employment law, for example five weeks of paid holiday per year, then your contract will still apply, and take precedence.
Your statutory rights
Statutory rights are legal rights that are based on laws passed by our Parliament. Nearly all workers in the UK, regardless of the number of hours per week that they work, have certain legal rights, and we’ve listed them all below for you. (This does mean that there are some workers who are not entitled to certain statutory rights, and we covered them in our previous blog.)
Sometimes you only gain a statutory right when you have been employed for a certain length of time. All the rights below start from the day you start work. If any rights do not apply, we will say so.
List of statutory rights:
By law, you have the right to:
- A written statement of terms of employment within two months of starting work.
- An itemised pay slip.
- Be paid at least the national minimum wage.
- Not to have illegal deductions made from your pay.
- Paid holiday. Full-time employees are entitled to at least four weeks, (28 days) a year, including bank holidays. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount, which means you accrue holiday when you work.
- Ask for flexible working arrangements.
- Time off for study or training if you are a 16-17 year old.
- Paid time off for antenatal care.
- Paid maternity leave.
- Paid paternity leave.
- Paid adoption leave.
- Take unpaid parental leave for both men and women (if you have worked for the employer for one year) and the right to reasonable time off to look after dependents in an emergency (which applies the day you start work.
- Under Health and Safety law, to work a maximum 48-hour working week.
- Under Health and Safety law to weekly and daily rest breaks. There are special rules for night workers.
- Carry on working until you are at least 65.
- Time off for trade union duties and activities. This applies from the day you start work, but time off doesn’t necessarily have to be paid. You also have the right to be accompanied by a trade union representative to a disciplinary or grievance hearing. For instance, if you take part in official industrial action and you are dismissed as a result, this will be an automatically unfair dismissal (see our last blog).
- The same contractual rights (pro-rata) as a comparable full-time worker if you are a part-time worker.
- The same contractual rights as a comparable permanent employee if you are fixed-term employee.
- Paid time off to look for work if being made redundant. This only applies once you have worked for the employer for two years.
- Not to be discriminated against.
- Notice of dismissal, provided you have worked for your employer for at least one calendar month.
- Written reasons for dismissal from your employer, provided you have worked for your employer for one year if you started before 6 April 2012 or two years if you started on or after that date. Women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are entitled to written reasons without having to have worked for any particular length of time.
- Claim compensation if unfairly dismissed. In most cases to be able to claim unfair dismissal you will need to have worked for your employer for one year if you started before 6 April 2012, or two years if you started on or after that date.
- Claim redundancy pay if made redundant. In most cases you will need to have worked for two years to be able to claim redundancy pay.
- Not to suffer detriment or dismissal for ‘blowing the whistle’ on a matter of public concern (such as malpractice) at the workplace.
You may also have additional rights which may be set out in your contract of employment, which is why it’s wise to look through your employment contract very closely!
We hope this guide has answered some of your questions. If you need any further help at all, remember that you can call us between 8am and 8pm to speak to our legal consultants. Employment law is one of our specialist areas. Phone us for a free and no obligation assessment on 0203 002 4898, or email us at [email protected] for more information.