Employment law feature article from Richard Nelson LLP
As an employee, you should be aware of at least the basic rights that are due to you. These rights stipulated by law apply to every legal full-time employee in the UK. These may vary though if you work as a casual worker or are self-employed.
The most rights are granted to full-time employees. These rights are called statutory employment rights. If you are about to start a full-time job, you must be given a contract including all the terms and conditions related to your employment, statements on your paid annual leave as well as terms on redundancy compensation.
From the day you first start working, you are entitled to the following rights by law:-
– Rights related to working time and paid holidays
– Rights related to the National Minimum Wage
– Rights related to joining a union
– Rights related to discrimination protection, such as race, gender, religion or disability
– Rights related to health and safety protection
You should always make sure your employment contract complies with the law. This refers to your paid holiday, for example. By law you are entitled to 28 days paid annual leave per year, so if in your contract it says you are only entitled to three weeks, your contract is considered as invalid. It is up to your employer though to grant you more than 28 days. You may also want to check whether or not bank holidays are included in your annual holidays.
The National Minimum Wage employees in the UK can expect depends on their age as well as whether or not they are employed full-time or in apprenticeship. The UK Government states that every one of the following is entitled to the minimum wage: people who work part-time, casual and agency workers, people who work from home, people who are in apprenticeship or a trainee programme, people who suffer from a disability, foreign workers as well as offshore workers. The current rates for National Minimum Wage rates are as follows:
– £6.19/h if you are 21 or above
– £4.98/h if you are between 18 and 20
– £3.68/h if you are under 18 and above compulsory school age
– £2.65/h if you are under 19
– £2.65 if you are in your first year of apprenticeship and at least 19
(Source: HM Revenue & Customs)
If you wish to join a union, you are allowed to do so. You are not required to let your employer know if you are a union member. If you find your employer treating you unfairly or penalising you because you are a member of a union or even trying to persuade you not to join a union, you are authorised to take action straight away.
It is unlawful for employees to be discriminated on gender, race, disability or religion grounds. If you find yourself being discriminated or harassed, you are entitled to raise a complaint to an employment tribunal.
As stipulated in the Health and Safety Act from 1974, your employer has to make sure to put in place any regulations regarding health and safety protection. This is referred to as “duty of care” and would involve minimising any risks for his or her employees and avoid anything that could harm them.
In a nutshell, you want to make sure you carefully read your contract of employment before you append your signature to it. If in doubt, ask your employer for clarification. You can seek further advice and an employment law consultation from Richard Nelson who will be happy to help you out with any legal issues at your workplace.