Employees have many rights these days within the workplace in the UK; however, not all employees, especially younger ones just entering the workforce, are aware of how they should be treated and what they are entitled to.
But before we go into this, knowing the legal difference between workers and employees is essential. An employee has a contract with an employer for regular work, while a worker has an arrangement to do work or services for benefits or payment. All employees are workers; however, not all workers are employees, and while employees have the same rights as workers, as an employee, you will have some additional benefits and responsibilities.
With this in mind, what can you expect when entering employment as an employer?
As an employee, you should be able to go to work and not be discriminated against for a range of different factors, including;
In some cases, there is justification for discrimination; for example, if an HGV driver’s eyesight deteriorates so they cannot legally drive safely on the road, then this is an objective justification, and it allows the employers to change the direct of the driver to protect others road users and members of the public.
However, other types of discrimination that can occur in the workplace are not justifiable. For example, suppose a person misses early morning shifts because they are pregnant and suffering from morning sickness. In that case, this is direct discrimination, as being pregnant is protected, and employees must not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
Indirect discrimination is when large sections of the population are essentially blocked from a job role due to a protected characteristic. Let’s take religion. If a job role specifies a particular day of the week must be worked, but this day is a religious day for a specific faith, e.g. a Saturday for Jews, this is indirect discrimination because it would exclude anyone of Jewish faith from applying for and successfully being hired for a job role.
Each employee must receive a payslip for their work hours and their remuneration. Each payslip must be received on or before the day they get paid, either a digital copy or physical wage slip and include a detailed breakdown of the housework, their base rate pay or minimum wage, any deductions taken, including tax and national insurance payments, pension or loan repayments for example and have gross and net pay stated clearly. Gross pay is the amount before deductions, and net pay is what you take home after deductions.
The UK has some extensive health and safety laws for employers to adhere to so everyone is safe in the workplace. These laws ensure the building and working equipment are safe and free from damage and defects. It means providing toileting facilities, a wash basin and clean drinking water for employees, and personal protection equipment for all employees to use during their working day.
Your employer must take reasonable care to ensure that you are aware of and trained in all areas relating to health and safety and that you know your part in upholding these standards so you can work safely at all times.
All UK workers are entitled to statutory sick pay from their employer. Statutory sick pay (SSP) is set at £109.40 per week and is payable for up to 28 weeks. To qualify for statutory sick pay, you must have at least done some work for your employer, earnt at least £120 per week, and have been ill for 4 days or more.
SSP isn’t paid for the first three days of an illness unless this isn’t a new absence and you have already received SSP in the previous 8 weeks, which included the three-day waiting period.
Every employee has the right to request flexible working from their employer. While it might not always be granted, you are entitled to ask if this can benefit you and the company. New plans are in place to be able to do this from day one of employment, but currently, you must have worked 28 weeks continuously before you can submit your request.
To do this, you must submit in writing your request for flexible working, which includes the following information;
Your employer will have three months from the date of the letter to respond. If they accept, they must change your contract to account for changes. If it is denied, they must explain why. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome, you can talk to Employment Solicitors to help you find a reasonable outcome for your request.
All employees are entitled to annual leave each year in the UK. Your employer sets your annual leave period dates, which will run for 12 months. This can be any date in the year, and once these 12 months are completed, your new yearly leave entitlement will start again.
For someone working a 5-day week, you are entitled to 28 days leave per year paid for by your employer. This time can include bank holidays, too, so your time off may be less to account for this. Employers don’t legally have to pay for bank holiday closures if they are usually open on top of the legal annual leave.
Annual leave can also be accrued during sickness, maternity, paternity, and adoption leave.
As an employee, your employer has legal obligations to uphold to ensure they protect you and treat you as you are entitled, as it is set out in law. If you ever feel like your employer is falling short of any legal requirement, you can bring this up with them or take things further if necessary.