Your rights in work

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 some of these rights have exceptions, these rights cover virtually every worker by law:

  • You have a right to be remunerated for your work at a rate of at least the minimum wage.
  • You must be given a payslip that is itemised showing your wage calculation and any relevant deductions.
  • Employers must not make any deductions that are illegal from your wages.
  • You are entitled to some paid holiday every year and also time off (paid) for antenatal care, adoption leave, antenatal care, paternity and maternity leave.
  • You should have a written statement outlining the main terms and conditions of your job within two months of starting.
  • You can not be discriminated against.
  • You are entitled to paid time off for activities involving your trade union or to study if you are 16 or 17.
  • Health and safety legislation demands you be given weekly and also daily breaks; you cannot be made to work greater than 48hours a week
  • If you have worked for over a month, you must be given notice if the business chooses to dismiss you
  • You can not be dismissed for being a “whistle blower”
  • If the company dismisses you whilst on maternity leave or while you are pregnant, you’re entitled to an explanation in writing
  • You have the right to have a trade union rep accompany you to any disciplinary or dismissal hearings
  • Part time workers are entitled to the same contracted rights as full-time employees in a role that is similar. However, holiday pay entitlement may be calculated on a pro-rata basis
  • Fixed term employees should have the same contracted rights as a permanent employee in a role that is similar

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 have the right to enter a request to work flexible hours
  • After a year of working for your employer you should become entitled to take parental leave (unpaid)
  • If you began your job prior to 6th April 2012, you are entitled to an explanation in writing should you be dismissed by your employer. You also have the right to submit a claim for compensation if it is found that your dismissal was unfair.

After two full years working for your employer you’ll gain the following rights:

  • You should be entitled to take time off (paid) to seek out another job if the business is making you redundant
  • Redundancy pay entitlement if made redundant

Contractual and pay rights

While your statutory rights are regulated by the law, you might have further rights and entitlements outlined in your employment 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 can be found 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.