What are my rights as a worker?
Every worker has the right to be paid and to enjoy a reasonably safe place of work. Equally, every worker has duties to their employer, including duties of honesty, loyalty, confidentiality and personal service.
The law protects you in other ways, including the right:
- not to be discriminated against at work because of your sex (including if you are transgender), marital status, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or age. You are protected whether you work full-time, part-time or on a fixed-term contract (see What if I've been discriminated against?);
- to a minimum level of pay as set out for most workers in the National Minimum Wage Act (see What is the least I should be paid?);
- to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of paid holiday a year or the pro-rata equivalent (scaled down according to the hours you work), depending whether you work full- or part-time. This includes public and statutory holidays such as Christmas and bank holidays;
- not to have money taken unlawfully (unlawful deductions) from your wages;
- to be paid the same as colleagues of a different sex for doing equal work;
- not to be discriminated against because you work part-time;
- to have a limit on the hours of your working week (with some exceptions);
- to be accompanied at a grievance or disciplinary hearing;
- not to suffer for whistleblowing. Dismissing a worker who makes a ‘protected disclosure’ (reports misconduct) is unfair dismissal;
- not to suffer a detriment (for example being demoted, disciplined or dismissed) for certain reasons, such as seeking to be paid the national minimum wage if you are entitled to it;
- to unpaid parental leave if you meet the necessary conditions.
Employees are a particular type of worker, who have more legal rights than workers in general. You are an employee if you work under a ‘contract of employment’. This is an agreement between you and your employer on your terms and conditions of employment.
A contract of employment can be verbal or written. It may be called a ‘contract of service’ or ‘apprenticeship’.
You don’t have to be called an employee to be one – a trainee working under a contract of employment is still an employee.
The majority of people in work are employees. Some groups who are likely to be workers but not employees include:
- most agency workers; and
- short-term casual workers.
- Am I a worker?
- What are my rights as a worker?
- What are my rights as an employee?
- Do I need a written contract of employment?
- What is the least I should be paid?
- How many hours can my employer make me work?
- What should I do if I have a problem at work?
- What if my employer has a problem with me?
- What if I’ve been dismissed unfairly?
- Bringing a claim for unfair dismissal
- What if I’ve been made redundant?
- Bringing a claim for wrongful dismissal
- What if I've been discriminated against?
- What are my rights if I work part-time?
- What are my rights if I’m having a baby?
- Can I take leave as a new father?
- What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I care for an adult?
- Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?
- Further help with employment law
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- Community Legal Advice