Employment Rights

Shutterstock 129614789As an employee in the UK, current legislation entitles you to several rights which serve to make sure that you are treated well, equally and fairly. Knowledge of your basic employment rights can be invaluable if something goes wrong in your work place, so that you can be aware of what you are entitled to legally in terms of resolving the problem.

Statutory protection 

The following pieces of legislation constitute the statutory protection for all employees in the UK:

  • The Equal Pay Act 1970
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • The Race Relations Act 1976
  • The Employment Rights Act 1996
  • The Protection From Harassment Act 1997
  • Employment Equality Regulations 2003
  • EC Equal Treatment Directive 76/207

National Minimum Wage

Currently, the National Minimum Wage stands at £6.19 per hour. This applies to anyone aged 21 or over. For those aged under 21, there are different levels of minimum wage which are as follows:

  • 18-20 years (Young Workers) - £4.98 per hour
  • 16-17 years - £3.68 per hour

Note that for apprentices there is a separate minimum wage; those under 19 or in their first year of apprenticeship can be paid anything from £2.65 per hour. After the first year, or for those above 19 years of age, the standard age- appropriate rate applies.

Working Time Regulations

The Working Time Regulations 1998 offer new basic rights relating to the amount of time an employee can work during a week, minimum limits on rest breaks, and paid leave. Certain Regulations, as with the minimum wage, apply differently depending on the age of the employee.

Maximum 48-hour week

The Working Time Regulations prevent an employer from compelling an employee to work more than 48 hours per week. As an employee you can give written consent to work over and above these hours, though this can only be done on an individual basis.

Compulsory rest breaks

All employees are, by right, entitled to a certain amount of rest time. The minimum level of compulsory rest breaks is different for adult (over the age of 18) and young workers, and is divided into three categories:

Rest breaks at work:

  • Adult workers: 20 minutes for every six hours worked.
  • Young workers: 30 minutes break if the working day is longer than 4.5 hours.

Daily rest:

  • Adult workers: 11 consecutive hours between each working day.
  • Young workers: 12 consecutive hours between each working day.

Weekly rest:

  • Adult workers: 24 hours each week (or 48 per fortnight).
  • Young workers: 48 hours each week. 

Paid annual leave

All workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks (equivalent to 28 days) paid leave each year, though it is important to note that legally there is no obligation for an employer to give an employee time off on Public or Bank Holidays, it is down to the discretion of the individual employer.

Note that in your first year of employment you will only accrue holiday for the time that you work, so for example once you have worked one month you will have accrued 1/12th of your holiday entitlement.

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