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Basic employment rights

Your employment rights are protected by law to stop you from being exploited or treated badly. You have some rights as soon as you start work, others depend on how long you have been working. Find out more about what your basic rights are.

Pay and Work Rights Helpline

Pay and Work Rights Helpline

0800 917 2368

  • Online enquiry form Opens new window
  • Contact details

You can contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline for help in the following employment areas:

  • the National Minimum Wage
  • working in agriculture
  • using employment agencies
  • working time limits
  • using a gangmaster

The Helpline takes calls in over 100 languages. You can also ask a question using the online form.

  • Download 'Want to know more about your rights at work? You have a powerful friend' (PDF, 887K)
  • Help with PDF files

National Minimum Wage

Most workers are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). It makes no difference whether you work full time,part time, in a permanent job,on a short-term contract, for an agency or directly for an employer.

If you are paid by the number of things you make or tasks you do, this is called piece or output work. You are still entitled to the NMW for piece work.

  • Download 'National Minimum Wage: a guide for workers' (PDF, 314K)
  • Help with PDF files
  • The National Minimum Wage

Agricultural work

If you work in agriculture, you have different rightsfrom other workers. You could be entitled to the Agricultural Minimum Wage and other allowances. You also have different rules for calculating your holiday and sick pay entitlement.

Agricultural work can be many different things, including, for example:

  • any activity on a farm
  • growing and harvesting food, fruit bulbs, plants or flowers
  • using land for grazing, orchards orwoodland
  • Agricultural workers

Employment agencies

If you use an employment agency to find work, you have certain rights. These make sure the agency cannot exploit you.

  • Download 'Agency workers: know your rights' (PDF, 951K)
  • Help with PDF files
  • Agency workers and employment agencies

Deductions from wages

Deductions can only lawfully be taken from your wages if:

  • they are legally required or authorised (eg tax and National Insurance)
  • they are allowed byyour employment contract- you must have a copy of the contracttermwhich allows the deduction, or a written explanation of it, before the deduction is made
  • you have agreed in writing before the deduction is made

If your employer is making deductions from your pay, you should check that they are allowed to. Your employer cannot make any deduction or take a payment from you which reduces your pay below NMW rates even if they have your permission to do so.

  • Pay deductions
  • Calculating the National Minimum Wage: the basics
  • Finding work through an employment agency

Gangmaster licensing

A gangmaster is an individual or a business who supplies labour (workers) to the following areas:

  • agriculture
  • horticulture
  • fish processing
  • gathering shellfish
  • packaging or processing food or drink products

Gangmasters who supply workers must be licensed by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The GLA regulates these businesses andensures they respect your employment rights.

Working hours

You should not have to work more than an average of 48 hoursin a workingweek unless you choose to. This includes any overtime. You are entitled to have a minimum of one day off per week. If you work for more than six hours a day you should have a rest break of at least 20 minutes.

If you use a labour provider, they must keep a written record to show you have agreed to work any additional hours.

  • Working hours

Other employment rights

Acas Helpline

08457 474 747

  • Acas contact details

You could also have other rights at work, for example the right to have an employment contract. If you need help with any of these rights, you can contact the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) Helpline for free, confidential and impartial advice. The Helpline takes calls in over 100 languages.

Your employment contract

An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer. If you have been employed for over one month, by law you must be given a written statement of your terms and conditions. You should receive this within two months of starting work, even if you are going to work for them for less than two months.

Generally, your employer needs your permission to change the terms and conditions of your contract.

You should always check your employment contract to see what you are entitled to. If your employment contract says you should get something more than the statutory minimum (eg higher pay than the National Minimum Wage),your employer must give this to you.

  • Employment contracts and conditions

Itemised payslip

You should receive an individual written payslip on or before the day you are paid. This must show your 'gross pay' (before tax) and your 'take home pay' (after tax and other deductions).

Deductions which can change weekly (eg tax and National Insurance) should be listed on each payslip. Any deductions which remain the same can be listed once a year.

  • Being paid and payslips

Sick pay

You could be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are away from work on sick leave for four days or more in a row. This guarantees that you will be paid a minimum amount while you are ill.

  • Statutory Sick Pay (money, tax and benefits section)

Annual leave

You are entitled to a minimum amount of holiday a year, starting from your first day at work. This includes part-time and fixed-termworkers.

  • Time off and holidays

Health and safety

Your employer has a legal responsibility for your health and safety at work. Free of charge, you should receive:

  • health and safety information
  • training
  • protective clothing

Any accommodation provided by your employer or labour provider should meet current legislation.

If you use a labour provider to find work, your labour provider and labour user (the person you do work for) must agree who will be responsible for managing your health and safety. This agreement must be in writing.

  • Health and safety at work

Work and families

Most workers can take paid time off work for the birth or adoption of a child. The amount of time you can take depends onwhether you are the mother orfather and how long you have been with the employer.

You mayhave the right to request to work flexibly or totake a certain amount of unpaid time off to look after your children.

  • Work and families

Problems at work

If you have a problem or dispute at work, there are different ways for you and your employer to try to resolve it. To find out how to resolve issues download the Problems at work leaflet.

  • Help with PDF files
  • Problems at work

Your responsibilities

You must be legally entitled to work in the UK and should have, or have applied for a valid National Insurance number.

  • Permission to work in the UK

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