Knowing Your Legal Rights as an Employee

Apr 15, 2014 by

As an entry level employee or someone who’s worked in the same establishment for decades, it’s imperative that you’re aware of your legal rights as an employee and keep your ears pricked for news of any changes that could affect your legal situation.

Accident at work

Your livelihood is at stake here and although, for the most part, changes to legislation governing employee rights generally tend to favour employees that isn’t always the case, so be aware that your legal rights and situation as an employee could be subject to change.

Your basic rights at work

In the UK, your basic rights at work are affected by a) statutory rights which are legal rights based on laws that have been passed by Parliament, and b) your employment contract. However, you must be aware that the employment contract you entered into with your employer cannot take away from you the rights based on laws that have been passed by parliament.

Know your statutory rights

Most workers in the UK have statutory rights, regardless of whether they’re employed on a part-time or fulltime basis, though in some cases employees might not be granted full statutory rights unless they’ve been employed for a certain period of time. Here are three of the most common statutory rights that you should be aware of.

  • The right to be paid at least the minimum wage
  • The right to paid holidays
  • The right not to have illegal deductions taken from pay

In addition to well-known statutory rights like these, here are a few that you mightn’t be aware of.

  • The right to take paid time off to look for work if notification has been given that the employee will be made redundant
  • The right to ask for flexible working hours to take care of dependents
  • The right to take unpaid parental leave (both men and women)

These statutory rights apply to most employees in the UK but not, for example, members of the armed forces or police service, employees normally employed outside the UK and agency or freelance workers.

Employment contract rights

Whilst your employer can’t take the rights based on laws that have been passed by parliament away from you, you must recognise and be aware of ‘custom and practice’ agreements which are agreements that you enter into because of what are deemed ‘usual practices’, for example, working in a sector where there are seasonal considerations which mean you have to take your holidays at a certain time of the year.

Know your rights and keep up to date

It’s not only important to know your rights, but also keep up to date with what’s going on in the company you work for, especially if it’s obvious that something is going on, or more accurately, going wrong.

The troubles experienced by Blockbuster, Comet and HMV illustrate the importance of this point because now the employees of these companies have to decide what to do since their employer has fallen into administration, which is different from liquidation, as many have recently realised.

Accidents at work

In addition to employment issues, it’s also imperative that employees understand their rights regarding accidents in the workplace and what they should do if they’re injured at work. In addition to seeking personal injury advice from an experienced solicitor, there’s protocol involved that they need to be aware of and follow if they are to successfully seek compensation with which to cover the time they take off work and to pay for the medical costs involved.

Understanding your rights as an employee is imperative – your future depends on it.

Author: Russell Worth is a law firm that is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. They specialise in giving personal injury advice to those who would like to file a claim.

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