Employment Contracts

by Kate Russell

A summary of rights in the workplace

Employees, workers and the genuinely self-employed

Employees, workers and genuinely self-employed individuals all enjoy the following rights:

  • The right not to suffer from unlawful discrimination
  • The right to equal pay for equal work, for work of equal value or work rated as equivalent
  • The right to belong or not to belong to a trade union and to take part in trade union activities
  • The right to a safe work environment.

Rights of workers

In addition, employees and workers have the following rights:

  • The right to 5.6 weeks paid holidays
  • The right to work a maximum of 48 hours per week and to have rest breaks
  • The right to receive the national minimum wage
  • Part timers have the right not to be treated less favourably than their full-time equivalents
  • The right to protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (‘whistleblowing’)
  • Protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • The right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing
  • Statutory sick pay (eligibility depends on service and earnings levels and therefore can be earned by some workers).

More information about these rights.

Rights of employees only

Employees enjoy the same workplace rights as self-employed and workers. However, only employees have the following additional rights:

  • An itemised pay statement
  • Written particulars of the main terms and conditions of employment
  • Maternity benefits
  • Paternity benefits
  • Adoption benefits
  • Right to request flexible working
  • Notice of termination of employment
  • Redundancy pay
  • Parental leave
  • Time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant
  • Time off for public duties
  • Time off for trade union activities, duties and training
  • Protected employment rights when the business is transferred to a new employer
  • Protection against unfair dismissal
  • Written reasons for dismissal (upon request)
  • Protection for fixed-term employees
  • Statutory dispute resolution.

Some rights will be given from the first day of employment: for example, the right not to suffer unlawful discrimination. Some are given upon the completion of a specified length of service: for example, the right to receive statutory redundancy pay will only be earned after two years’ service.

Itemised pay statement – employees

All employees are entitled to an individual written pay statement, at or before the time of payment. The statement must show gross pay and take-home pay, with amounts and reasons for all variable deductions. Fixed deductions must also be shown, either with detailed amounts and reasons or as a total sum, provided a written statement of these items is given in advance to each employee at least once a year.

Written statement of employment particulars

Within two months of the beginning of the employment, employers must generally give employees a written statement of the main particulars of employment. The statement should include, amongst other things, details of pay, hours, holidays, notice period and an additional note on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Time off work for public duties

Employers are required, under certain circumstances, to permit employees who hold certain public positions to take reasonable time off to perform the duties associated with them.

This provision covers such offices as justice of the peace, prison visitor and member of a local authority, a statutory police authority, a statutory tribunal, and certain health, education, water and river authorities. You do not have to pay the employee for the time off taken for public duties.

Time off for trade union activities

An employee has the right to take reasonable paid time off work for official union activities.