An Employee's Guide to Employment Rights

If you're an employee faced with problems in the workplace, it's wise to seek expert advice.

Whether dealing with breach of contract, unfair dismissal or sexual harassment, when pitted against the resources of your employer/former employer, having a skilled legal team in your corner is a necessity.

After all, considering your employment will make up a large portion of your life, any difficulties you face in the workplace can impinge on other, non-work-related, activities.

Irrespective of whether you're an office junior or a chief executive, if things do go awry, or if you're beginning a new role, it's imperative you have a broad understanding of what your rights are.

Read on for more information about some of your basic rights as an employee ...

Written Statement of Employment

When you begin a new role, you must receive a written statement from your employer, regardless of the number of hours you work every week.

This must be received within two months of starting your new role, with the main terms of the contract of employment described in detail, including:

  • Job title
  • Wages
  • Hours of work
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Sick pay
  • Pension schemes
  • Notice period
  • Grievance, dismissal and disciplinary procedure

Put simply, the written statement is an agreement between you and your employer, with the terms set out to ensure you both know what to expect of each other.

Wages

As an employee, you're entitled to be paid for any work you undertake.

You should also be paid if you can't work due to sickness, or if you're on maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or parental leave. While situations may vary, you'll typically be entitled to your normal wage while off work (for some of the time).

However, the law – although entitling parents to a certain amount of paid leave – sets pay rates for maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave, which is not as much as your usual wage.

Additionally, you are entitled to a certain number of paid holiday days every year.

Holidays

As a full-time employee, and in line with the Working Time Regulations, you're entitled by law to a minimum of 28 days leave per annum, which can include public and bank holidays.

If you're a part-time employee, you're entitled to a pro rata amount.

Importantly, your holiday entitlement MUST be laid out in your employment contract, and if you leave your role, any days you haven't used should be added to your final pay.

Sickness

Sickness is often unavoidable.

If you're unfortunate enough to suffer from an episode of ill health, your employer should facilitate your return to work to allow you to come back safely and avoid further sickness absence.

This can be done by the lines of communication between yourself and your employer being opened up, allowing them to identify areas where they can meet your needs in the workplace.

Admittedly, your employer is not legally bound to offer a return to work policy, but it is in everyone's best interests if procedures are in place to manage expectations.

Although you have no statutory right to your usual pay during sick leave, most employers will agree to pay you for a certain amount of time during your absence.

Whatever the circumstances, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is typically paid if you're off sick for four or more days consecutively, and payable at a flat weekly rate for a maximum of 28 weeks.

Flexible Working

It may be inevitable that your employment impinges on other obligations in your life – which is where the requirement for flexible working can come in.

If you decide to make such a request to your employer, they have a legal duty to give it serious consideration and only deny the request if a valid business reason for doing so is provided.  

If you want to make a statutory request for flexible working, you must be an employee, as workers employed through an agency don't qualify.

Additionally, you must have been employed for at least 26 weeks as of the date you make the request and must not have made any other statutory requests during the past year.

Health and Safety

We should all feel safe at work.

Consequently, your employer has a statutory duty to take care of your health and safety, providing first aid equipment, suitable fire escape, protective clothing and safe machinery, where appropriate.

There are also rules, among many others, surrounding:

  • Noise
  • Toilets
  • Drinking water
  • Temperature
  • Use of computers

If you feel your employer is not acting in accordance with health and safety regulations, you can raise a grievance or, in some extreme cases, you may even wish to resign from your position.

Whatever aspect of employment law you need help with, we can help.

With over 60 years of combined experience dealing with employment problems, it's safe to say we've learned a thing or two about the laws governing the workplace.

Feel free to take a look at the broad range of topics we can help you with, or get in touch with a member of the Ashby Cohen team today.