As an employee, you and your job are covered under certain rights. These rights protect you from discrimination from your employer which in turn, gives you job security. In the uncertain times we face right now, being protected in your job by law helps to give you peace of mind and financial security.
Your workers’ rights cover a range of subjects such as how much you should be paid, the conditions you are expected to work in and how much time off you can expect. The law also covers other aspects such as maternity and paternity leave, sick pay and dismissal. Employers are required to oblige by your workers’ rights and you can begin court proceedings if you feel as though your workers’ rights have been abused or ignored.
Your basic rights as a worker
As soon as you enter into employment, you are covered by your basic right which are called statutory rights. While there are some exceptions, these rights cover virtually every worker by law:
- You have a right to be paid at least the minimum wage.
- You must receive an itemised payslip showing your wage calculation and any deductions.
- Your employer must not make any illegal deductions from your wages.
- You have the right to an amount of paid holiday each year as well as paid time off for antenatal care, maternity, paternity and adoption leave.
- You should have a written statement outlining the main terms and conditions of your job within two months of starting.
- You cannot be discriminated against.
- You have the right to paid time off for trade union activities or for study in you are 16 or 17.
- Health and safety laws demand you be given daily and weekly breaks; you cannot be forced to work more than 48hours a week.
- If you have been working for over a month, you must be given notice if you are to be dismissed.
- You cannot be dismissed for being a “whistle blower”.
- If you are dismissed whilst pregnant or while on maternity leave you are entitled to a written explanation.
- You have the right to be accompanied to any disciplinary or dismissal hearings by a trade union representative.
- Part time workers should have the same contractual rights as a full time employee in a similar role. However, holiday pay entitlement may be calculated on a pro-rata basis.
- Fixed term employees should have the same contractual rights as a permanent employee in a similar role.
Additional statutory rights
Once you have been working for your employer for a period of time, you will become entitled to additional rights under law:
- After 6 months of working under your employer you are entitled to submit a request for flexible working hours
- After a year of working for your employer you should become entitled to take unpaid parental leave
- If you started your job before 6th April 2012, you have the right to a written explanation should you be dismissed by your employer. You also have the right to claim compensation if you have been unfairly dismissed.
After two years working for your employer you should gain the following rights:
- You should be entitled to take paid time off to look for another job if you are being made redundant
- The right to claim redundancy pay if made redundant
Contractual and pay rights
While your statutory rights are regulated by the law, you may have further rights and entitlements outlined in your contract. These rights will need to be agreed upon by yourself and your employer and included in your contract of employment. While your contractual right themselves are not protected by law, the law does dictate that your employer should not breach the terms of your employment contract or they will be held liable and you could seek compensation.
Most workers have the right to be paid minimum wage and these amounts vary depending on your age:
- £6.95 for workers aged 21 or over.
- £5.55 for workers aged from 18 – 20.
- £4.00 for workers aged from 16 – 17.
- £3.40 for apprentices who are in the first year of their apprenticeship or aged below 19.
Certain workers such as the self-employed, company directors, students on placement and members of the armed forces are not entitled under the law to be paid minimum wage but their employers may decide to pay them these amounts. Their pay structure will be outlined in their employment contracts.
Finding out more information about your rights
As an employee, it is good practice to be well informed of your rights within the workplace. There are plenty of sources of information regarding your statutory rights such as Citizens Advice Bureau or the www.gov.uk website. Make sure that you fully read and understand your contractual rights before you sign it and bring up any issues with your employer in writing so that you have a paper copy of everything.