Human rights in the workplace
Your human rights are protected by the law. If your employer is a public authority, they must follow the principles of the Human Rights Act. Read about your human rights at work and what to do if you think they've been breached.
The Human Rights Act
The Human Rights Act was introduced in October 2000. It's based on the European Convention on Human Rights and adds protection for workers' rights and freedoms. Provisions within the Act deal with work-related matters.
If you work in the public sector, it's unlawful for your employer to violate your human rights under the Convention, unless an Act of Parliament means it has no choice.
If your employer isn't a public authority you can't make a claim against your employer for breach of your human rights. However, human rights law has been incorporated into general employment law (for example, not to be discriminated against because of your sexuality) and applies to all employers.
Any decision by an Employment Tribunal must follow the principles laid out in the Convention.
- Read more about human rights
- Find out about Employment Tribunals
Human rights in the workplace
Many of the principles of the Human Rights Act are designed to protect you as a worker within the workplace.
For example, you have the right to a private and family life. So an employer who discriminates against a gay worker, for example, may be violating that worker's right to a private life.
Your employer has the right to monitor communications within the workplace as long as you're aware of the monitoring before it takes place. Monitoring can cover:
- internet access
- telephone calls
You have the right to see any information held about you (for example, emails or CCTV footage).
Your right to a private life means you have the right to some privacy in the workplace. You can't be monitored everywhere. If your employer doesn't respect this, they'll be breaching human rights law (as well as UK law).
- More about drug testing and employee monitoring
What to do next
If you believe your human rights at work have been breached, you should talk to your employer first. If you're still unhappy, you can follow the internal grievance procedure in your contract or written statement of employment.
- Guidance on resolving disputes in the workplace
- Find out about grievance procedures
- More about contracts of employment
If that doesn't work, you may want to take legal action. Human rights law can be complex and so before doing this, you will need to take legal advice.
- Find a solicitor or advice agency
Where to get help
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) offers free, confidential and impartial advice on all employment rights issues. You can call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47 from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide free and impartial advice. You can find your local CAB office in the phone book or online.
If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them.
- More about trade unions
More useful links
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