Employee Rights



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Employee Rights

The main employee rights available in the UK are set out below.  If you feel that you are being denied your statutory (legal) rights or you need any kind of employment law advice then please contact the Do I Have A Case helpline on 0800 0148727 for free, no obligation legal advice.

Employment Rights Act 1996

When it came into force on 22nd August 1996 the Employment Rights Act (ERA) conferred a number of  employee rights and consolidated others from antecedent legislation.  Those rights include:

The Right to Receive a Written Statement on Commencement of Employment.

Section 1 of the ERA 1996 sets out the right to receive a written statement setting out the most important particulars of employment.  This should be given to an employee no more than two months after he has started work.  Whilst this is not in itself an employment contract it should cover many of the most important details and would provide good evidence of the intentions of the parties (employee and employer) in the event of any future dispute.

The Right not to be Unfairly Dismissed

Forming one of the most fundamental employee rights, Part X of the ERA 1996 sets out the right not to be unfairly dismissed.  In brief it sets out the reasons why an employee may be dismissed and the factors that would be taken into consideration in deciding whether an employee has been dismissed fairly or otherwise.  ERA 1996 also entitles the employee to a written statement of reasons for dismissal under Section 92 ERA.

The Rights of Parents

The employee rights of parents in the workplace have improved tremendously over recent years.  The majority of these rights are set out in Part VIII of the ERA 1996 and include provisions on

Maternity and Adoption Leave

Parental Leave

Paternity Leave

Flexible Working

Redundancy Provisions and the Right to Redundancy Pay

Chapter XI of the ERA 1996 covers employee rights concerned with redundancy and redundancy payments.  It considers the right to payment and the circumstances in which an employee may consider himself to be dismissed through redundancy or dismissed for another reason.  The distinction is an important one because many employers will try to deal with an unsatisfactory worker by way of redundancy rather than dismissal.  Failure to pay redundancy payments would contravene s.135 ERA.

Statutory Minimum Notice Periods

Section 86 of the Employment Rights Act sets out the minimum number of days or weeks that an employee must be given on dismissal.  Those employed for at least one month and up to two years are entitled to one week’s notice.  Those who have worked more than two years and up to twelve years are entitled to a week’s notice for every year that they have been employed and those who have worked for twelve year’s or more are entitled to 12 week’s notice.

Unlawful Deductions from Wages

Section 13 of the Employment Rights Act prevents an employer from making unlawful deductions from wages.  There are very few circumstances in which an employer is entitled to withhold pay and as such this represents a significant area of employee rights.

The Right to Receive an Itemised Pay Statement

At section 8 of the ERA 1996 provision is made that an employer must provide an itemised pay statement.  Understandably allowing employees to see clearly what they have been paid is key to protecting their employee rights.  It allows an employer to check that their pay is accurate and see that they have been paid additional sums for overtime or unsociable hours.

Statutory Sick Pay

Employee rights exist to ensure that employees are paid a minimum level of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are unable to go to work through ill-health.  The legislation covering this is Section 88 ERA 1996.  Further information on SSP is available from HM Revenue and Customs but generally speaking an employee is able to claim £86.70 per week if they have been off work for 4 or more days continuously.  SSP is not paid for the first three days of sick leave and is only available to those who earn a minimum of £109 per week before tax.  The maximum time an employee can claim SSP is 28 weeks.

Time off work for Study or Training

After 26 weeks continuous employment an employee, working for a business that has at least 250 employees,  is entitled to request time off for training and study.  In order to qualify for this useful aspect of employee rights a request should be made stating that it is a request under Section 63D ERA.

Medical Suspension

Part VII ERA requires an employer to continue to pay an employee who has been suspended on medical grounds.  It also requires an employer to offer alternative work to an employee who is suspended on maternity grounds.

The Right to be Accompanied

Under s.10 ERA an employee has the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 (EqA) prevents workers from suffering discriminationharassment or victimisation on the grounds of sex, marital status or civil partnership, gender reassignment, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and age.

Working Time Regulations 1998

The working Time Regulations came onto the statute books in 1998.  Designed to prevent employees from working excessive hours, not having sufficient annual leave and not taking  breaks during long working days, the regulations represented an important step forward in employee rights.

Working hours

Working hours should not, under the regulations, exceed 48 hours in any 7 day period.  Furthermore, employers should take reasonable steps to ensure that their workers are benefiting from their employee rights and complying with the regulations.  Workers are entitled to opt-out for the working time regulations but any worker refusing to sign such an opt-out clause is protected from dismissal and unfair treatment arising out of their refusal.

Annual Leave

Employee rights created under the Working Time Regulations mean that each worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave per year.  However an employer need not give bank holidays in addition to this leave and may require employees to use up annual leave entitlements on bank holidays or over quieter trading times.  In addition an employer can prevent employees from taking leave at certain busy periods.

Rest Breaks

Employees working for more than 6 hours at one time are entitled to a twenty minute break.  Young workers have slightly enhanced employee rights in this regard and are entitled to a thirty minute break every 4.5 hours.  They are also entitled to take this break away from their work station.  Those working during the day must be given at least 11 hours rest time between shifts.


Special rules relate to those working on night shifts; employee rights are so vital in this regard because of the strain that many feel working unsociable hours.  Generally speaking, an employee should not be required to work more than 8 hours at night in any 24 hour period.  Employees refusing to work at night must not be dismissed or treated less favourably.   Workers under 18 are normally not permitted to work at night.  Workers should be required to take a health assessment before they begin working night shifts and it is worth noting that recent scientific research which links night-shift working with miscarriage may make it inadvisable for pregnant women to work at night.

Equal Pay Act 1970

Employee rights ensure that men and women doing equal work, like work or equivalent work to a comparator of the opposite sex are entitled to be paid the same.  Those who believe that they are entitled to, but not receiving, equal pay may present a claim to an employment tribunal.

Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000

This legislation prevents part-time workers from being treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues.

Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992

At section 188 this statute sets out the duty to consult with employee representatives when an employer is proposing to make twenty or more workers redundant.

Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (”ICE”)

An employee who is either (a) a negotiation representative; or (b) an information and consultation representative is entitled to paid time off in able to perform his representative functions.  The regulations also prevent these representatives from being subjected to a detriment (being treated less favourably than other employees) as a result of their role.

Transfer of Undertakings (Protections of Employment) regulations 2006 (”TUPE”)

These regulations operate when a business takes over another business as a going concern.  In very basic terms they prohibit the new employer from making changes to the employee rights of those working within the business which has been acquired.  This is an extremely complicated piece of legislation and as such it is worth taking legal advice in these circumstances not least because any dismissal resulting from a transfer of undertakings is deemed automatically unfair.

National Minimum Wage Act 1998

The rate for the National Minimum Wage from 1st October 2013 are:

21 and over£6.31
18 to 20£5.03
Under 18£3.72

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

This Act seeks to protect employees who make protected disclosures in the public interest.  In other words, whistle blowing.  It protects employees who make disclosures about potential health and safety and wrongdoing in the workplace from being dismissed or suffering a detriment (being treated less favourably).