What are my rights as an employee?
If you are an employee, you have certain rights in addition to the workers' rights listed in part 2. Your additional rights include the right:
- to have a written contract or a written statement of employment (see Do I need a written contract of employment?);
- to guaranteed payments;
- to statutory sick pay;
- to certain maternity rights;
- to statutory minimum notice periods;
- to statutory paternity or adoption leave and pay;
- to ask for flexible working;
- to time off for looking after dependants in certain circumstances;
- to be given reasons in writing if you are dismissed;
- to claim unfair dismissal, provided, in most cases, that you have worked for at least one year for your employer;
- to a statutory redundancy payment, provided you have worked for at least two years for your employer.
You may also have other rights even though they are not spelled out in your contract of employment. For example, if you have always received a Christmas bonus or extra holiday, you may be able to prove that this is a legal right under your contract, even if it isn’t mentioned there.
- 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
You are a worker if you have an agreement or contract to do paid work yourself for someone else, performing tasks or services. Generally the other person (or company) tells you what to do; tells you when, how and where to do it; supplies any tools you need; and decides what you get paid.
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.
A written contract of employment is useful because it sets out what you can expect from your job and from your employer. However, the law protects you as a worker, even if your contract is verbal and not written down. Whether or not you have a formal written contract, your employer must give you a written statement.
Your employment contract or written statement of terms should tell you your normal working hours. The Working Time Regulations say you should not work more than 48 hours a week on average, unless you have agreed in writing to work more. If you have signed a form saying you will work more than 48 hours a week, you can change your mind and say you no longer want to do this. You may have to give your employer notice of this, but they cannot insist on more than three months’ notice.
If you have a complaint about anything which is happening at work and you want it resolved, you can either take it up with your employer, using what’s known as the ‘grievance procedure’ or take it to an employment tribunal.
You must normally have been working with your employer continuously for a year before you can bring a claim for unfair dismissal. There are some special cases where this time limit does not apply. These are known as ‘automatic unfair dismissal’.
If your employer needs to make some staff redundant, they do not have to follow the same procedures as if they were dismissing you for other reasons. They should still try to be as fair as possible in deciding how many people they make redundant and how they choose them. Before they decide, they should speak to staff to see if they have any ideas about how to avoid the redundancies.
If you are dismissed without your employer giving you the notice that is in your contract, and they have no good reason for doing so, you will be entitled to damages (compensation) for ‘breach of contract’.
Despite laws aimed at stamping it out, discrimination is still common in the workplace. The laws aim to prevent you being unfairly discriminated against 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 fixed term.
Under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations, an employer may treat part-time workers differently from full-time workers only if they can show they have a good reason for doing this. Otherwise, they are not allowed to treat part-time workers less favourably than full-time workers.
If you are an employee and are having a baby, you are allowed to take time off to have the baby and for a period after the birth. You are entitled to take this leave no matter how long you have been working for that employer. There are also rules on your right to go back to your job after you have had your child.
If you are someone’s carer, you have a right to ‘dependant care leave’. This is ‘reasonable’ unpaid time off to deal with issues to do with people you care for. Unlike other types of leave, you don’t have to have worked for your employer for a minimum period before you can take it.
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