Employee Rights

Any employee has a certain number of rights that they are entitled to by law. Employers must respect these rights and are legally obligated to act accordingly.
Below are some of the most common and important:

Rights to pay
Any employee has a right to be paid for the work they do. The rate of pay will usually be agreed prior to work commencement and can vary from an annual salary to hourly, daily or weekly rates. Many employers will also offer benefits and sick pay, again these should be detailed prior to starting work. Pay will usually be awarded in arrears, in line with an agreed time period, usually weekly or monthly, depending on company policy. Employees cannot legally be paid less than the minimum wage, which is set by the government. Employers will make deductions from pay to cover legally obligated taxes such as income tax and national insurance. Student loans will also fall into this bracket if applicable. However, these are the only deductions that can be made without prior agreement, for e.g. items such as pension or healthcare schemes will be agreed before deduction. Any concerns about deductions can be discussed with the citizen's advice bureau. Gross and net payments, including deductions should be set out in a pay slip that should be provided to employees each time they are paid.

Employment Contracts
Employers are legally obligated to provide employees with the terms and conditions of employment by the latest, 2 months after the start date. However, it is advisable to read and sign this contract as early on as possible. Employees must ensure they are happy with the conditions set out within the contract before signing. Some of the most important sections to check are:

  • Employer's details
  • Job title and description
  • Commencement date
  • Work location
  • Working hours
  • Pay rates
  • Holiday pay and entitlement
  • Sick pay
  • Notice period
  • Procedure for disciplinary and grievances

Holiday Entitlements
As of April 2009, employees in full time work have a right to a total of 28 days annual leave (including public bank holidays, although employers do not have to allow these specific days as holiday). When employees take holiday is down to an agreement with their employer and any request can be refused if notice is given. In some industries it may be that employment contracts state a period of time where employees are not able to take leave, usually due to busy periods and work demands.

Sick Pay
Different employers will have various policies on how they expect employees to act when off sick and these details should be set out within the employment contract. However, there are some legal rights regarding sick pay. Employees are entitled to seven days off work without the need for a medical certificate. After this time, a 'fit note' from the doctor must be obtained and supplied to the employer, confirming that the employee is unfit for work. After four days of sick leave employees can start receiving statutory sick pay, which can then be paid for up to 28 weeks.

Health & Safety
Employers are legally obligated through the Health and Safety Act to create a safe working environment for their employees. Risk assessments and preventative measures should be made to help achieve this. A health and safety poster should be prominently displayed for employees, to ensure that all parties know their roles and responsibilities. If employees have any concerns regarding health and safety in the workplace, they should contact the governing body - the Health & Safety Executive at www.hse.gov.uk.