Employees have rights and many of these rights are legally protected, meaning all employees have recourse to the law to ensure those rights are observed, and that they receive compensation or some other form of redress when they are not.
Some employee rights are statutory, this means they are given by the law of the UK and apply to all employees. Other rights are contractual, which means they are given by your particular employment contract. Contractual rights are legal rights, but they will not apply to everyone.
Statutory employee rights
There are many employee rights given by state law in the UK. Generally speaking you will gain these rights regardless of whether you work full or part time. In some cases, statutory rights only accrue after you have worked for a particular length of time.
Examples of statutory employment rights include:
- Written statement of terms of employment within two months of starting work
- An itemised pay slip and for no unlawful deductions to be taken from your pay
- The right to be paid the National Minimum Wage
- Holiday pay, ante natal, maternity and paternity pay
- Flexible working hours
- Maximum 48-hour working week
- Not to be discriminated against
- To be given notice of dismissal (providing you have worked for at least one month)
The following rights only accrue after you have worked for two years:
- Compensation for unfair dismissal
- Redundancy pay
Do all workers have statutory rights?
Not all workers are entitled to statutory employment rights. If you are not an employee for example, then you do not accrue employment rights. So if you work for an agency, or are a freelancer, then you won’t gain the same rights as an employee.
However, even then you have the right to receive the minimum wage and the right not to be discriminated against.
Others who may not receive full employment rights include police officers, armed forces employees, merchant seamen, and trainee doctors.
Contractual employee rights
Contracts of employment can vary the terms of your employment and may confer extra rights beyond those offered by statute law. In some circumstances, contracts of employment can also limit your rights, say for example if you agree to work on Sundays or if you agree to opt-out of the maximum 48-hour working week.
Contracts need not be in writing, although it helps if they are. Contract terms can be inferred from customs or practices, so if you were always paid for time off sick, an implied term could be drawn from that practice.
If you are unclear on the terms of your employment contract, you should ask your employer to clarify your position.
What is a written statement of employment terms?
The law states that all employees should receive a written statement of employment terms within two months of starting work. The written statement gives you the basic details of your employment, including:
- Job title
- Hours of work
- Paid holiday and sickness entitlement
- Details of any pension scheme
- Notice period
- Procedure for reporting a grievance, and disciplinary process