Get Ahead: Know your Rights as an Employee

April 11, 2013 4:38 pm

From human rights to civil rights, an employee should know what they’re entitled to by law, whether that’s protection from discrimination or from torture. Your employment rights are no different. You’re entitled to the statutory minimum treatment, according to the government’s specifications. No employer can deprive you of these rights, so don’t let them.

An Employment Contract

Whether or not you own a physical copy of your employment contract, it nevertheless exists. Once a contract has been agreed upon, it’s binding; even if it’s merely an oral statement. Obviously, a word-of-mouth contract is trickier to dispute than one written on paper. Your employment contract can’t override your statutory rights; even if you agree to the terms – it’s against the law.

Employee Pay

If you’re a full-time employee, you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW). This depends entirely on your age. Even if an 18 year-old does the exact same job as a 28 year-old, he or she will be entitled to different sums of money. Anyone above the age of 21 should be paid at least £6.19 an hour, whereas 18 to 20 year-olds can be paid a minimum of £4.98 an hour. Under 18’s will get £3.68.

employeeDocking Your Pay

Your employer can’t reduce your wage unless you agree in writing to the deduction and your income remains above the NMW. Unless this docking is required by law, you can protest this change.

Working Hours

Some weeks it feels as if we’ve been overworked. However, if you work more than 48 hours a week on average, legally, you’re in the office too much. Although you can opt to work more than 48 hours, this must be put in writing and you can’t be treated unfairly because you’ve declined to work overtime.

Employee Holidays

Every year, you should be allowed 5.6 weeks of paid holiday. If you work five days a week, that means you’re entitled to 28 days holiday. You can’t exactly choose when to take these days – it must be agreed with your employer… usually with some notice. Your business may require you to take a number of days off around Christmas, for example, because the company is closed at this time.


If your company has dismissed you, there must be a valid reason for you not doing your job properly. The onus is on your employer to prove that they’re fairly dismissing you. However, if you feel as if you’re being dismissed for unfair reasons, and you’ve been at the company for one year or more, you can usually protest this decision, but you may have to go to court. Always contact a legal adviser before you contest a work claim dismissal.

You can be dismissed if you can’t do your job properly, but your employer must have given you a reasonable opportunity to improve before they give you the sack.

If a long-term illness means that you can’t do your job, you may also be dismissed. In cases where your company fires you due to a disability, this is also unfair dismissal.

Redundancy is usually a fair process, but if someone takes on your role afterwards, the redundancy was a sham.

An employer should post all Labour Laws so employee can review them any time when at work. If you are an employer looking for a Labour Law poster, learn more about Labor Law Compliance Center.

Produced for Jigsaw Law Solicitors who specialise in personal injury cases – for further contact information and advice, visit them here at the following address: Jigsaw Law Ltd, Pioneer House, Pioneer Business Park, North Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 1AD or follow them on Twitter here @Jigsaw_Law 

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