As an employee in the UK, you have certain rights when it comes to working. You should be aware of what those rights are so you can ensure you are being properly treated as an employee.
If you are not treated correctly according to UK employment law, you can look for employment law help.
What Is an Employee?
Before you look into your rights, you need to determine if you are an employee. According to UK employment law, there are three types of people in the workforce.
Employee: You are an employee if the employer has control over your work and mutuality of obligation, that is you are required to complete work and the employer is required to provide payment for said work. The situation must also be consistent with an employment relationship.
Worker: A worker is someone who is obliged to perform services in a personal manner, but don’t carry on a business. They have very few rights and none of the same rights as an employee.
Self-Employed: Someone who manages their own business has virtually no protection at all.
Employees are the ones with the most rights under the law. Your contract of employment does not need to be written out, but both should be given names of the employer and employee, a job title, when the job began, what the pay rate and payment interval is, as well as the benefits, training requirements, and hours required.
Understanding UK Employment Law
UK employment law is somewhat complicated, and far too much to go into in a single article. However, there are certain areas you should know about. For example:
Employers must observe the following minimum rights:
- Receive a week’s notice per year of service for a maximum of 12 weeks
- A maximum of 48 hours per work week
- The national minimum wage (which increase every April)
- Workers may opt out of the maximum number of hours
- Minimum daily and weekly rest periods
- Minimum 5.6 weeks of holiday per year
- Minimum six months ordinary maternity leave and six months additional maternity leave, with a minimum of two weeks compulsory maternity leave
- Return from maternity leave entitles the woman to return to the previous job
- 28 days of paid holidays per year for full time workers
- Safety precautions on the jobsite
These rights help prevent the abuse of an employee’s time and ensure they are treated fairly.
Part-time workers are not to be treated any differently than those working full hours. The same goes for fixed-term employees, and temporary agency workers. They must all be treated the same as a regular, full time employee. In addition, temporary workers are entitled to benefits and amenities like any other employee after 12 weeks in the workplace.
Discrimination in the Workplace
All employees are protected against discrimination in its many forms, including:
- Sexual orientation
- Marriage or civil partnership status
- Gender reassignment
Employees also cannot be discriminated against if they are associated with someone with any of these characteristics. It’s not permitted for any of these protected characteristics to affect their recruitment and termination.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against, either directly or indirectly, you can go to human resources to discuss it and may have a case if things go too far. Part of discrimination is being harassed due to a characteristic that someone else in the workplace dislikes. If you take steps to act against this discrimination, it’s not lawful to victimise you for taking action or for supporting someone else in this situation.
Employees may bring their discrimination claim before the Employment Tribunal where it is possible to settle the claim before or after the claim begins. Employees may be entitled to compensation in these instances.
Foreign Workers Employed in the UK
Foreign workers employed in the UK have the same rights as other employees, but they should receive a payslip stating how much is being paid to you. The employer may also remove money from the wages in order to pay the cost of travel to the UK, accommodation, meals, etc. There are limits to how much they can take. It’s important that you understand your rights as a full time worker so you are not taken advantage of.
If you were given a work visa specifically for this job, then while you can leave it at any time, you may not be able to get another position legally. It’s important to know what your visa covers when you are looking for other work.
Keep in mind that your employer is not permitted to keep your passport or any other official document for more than a single day. You can report them if they keep your passport without permission, as this is illegal. You cannot be discriminated against at work, either, no matter where you are from. Talk to employment law specialists or join a union to help protect yourself from the discrimination. You cannot be sacked for seeking help.
Grounds for Dismissal
Employers do have the right to dismiss an employee, though it must be done in a specific manner and for certain reasons. If the employer dismisses you unfairly, you may have a case against them and could be given compensation.
Employers must give notice of termination unless the employee is being dismissed for gross misconduct. The employee is given one week’s notice per year of employment, minimum, up to 12 weeks. Fair procedure must be followed, which will follow the company’s protocols. Generally, this involves giving the employee fair warnings and allowing the chance to change their behaviour.
Grounds for fair dismissal must be fair reasons for the employer to dismiss the employee. This may be for one of a few reasons, such as:
Inability to complete the job: If the person is no longer capable of completing their job, they may be dismissed.
Redundancy: Companies that are no longer in need of so many employees may end up laying people off and this is acceptable.
Legal reasons: If the employee can no longer complete the job due to legal reasons, such as being unable to drive, due to losing their license.
Gross misconduct: When an employee steals from the business, commits fraud, or is violent in the workplace, they may be dismissed immediately without notice or any payment.
Any employee that has worked for the company for over two years is protected against unfair dismissal. The contract may be terminated, or it may be a fixed-term contract that has expired. It’s also possible for an employee to resign, due to a breach of contract.
Employers may not dismiss an employee for:
- Pregnancy related reasons
- Maternity or family leave reasons
- Health and safety related reasons
- Making a protected disclosure about the business
- Requesting flexible work times
- Working part-time
- Working as a fixed-term employee
- Participating in trade union activities
- Not joining a trade union
All of these unfair dismissals may be claimed no matter how long the employee has been working, even if it’s just a few weeks.
You may also apply for a claim of unfair dismissal when the employer lied about their reason for dismissal or gave a reason that was not fair. If they didn’t act reasonably, you may also have a claim against them. It’s important to review the employer’s handbook and regulations, as they will have the terms for dismissal laid out there. If the process is not correctly followed, you may be able to file a claim against them.
When Employment Contract Law is Breached
What should you do if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed? The first thing to do is contact an employment lawyer who can advise you on the next steps. Look for someone with plenty of experience, so you can be sure they know what they’re doing.
Keep records of everything you are given. Any paperwork may be useful in going to court. It’s also important to keep a record of each activity or incident that leads up to your dismissal. All of this will help the employment lawyer determine if you have a case.
If you feel you’ve been wrongly dismissed, contact Swan Craig today to find out if you have a case. We have lawyers standing by to help you.