For many of us, our profession is a huge part of our identity. If you spend a number of years working towards a particular career, by the time you get there, you will have invested a significant amount of effort and emotion into it.
No matter what your job is, as an employee you are entitled to certain employment rights. Here’s what you need to know.
There are a number of statutory rights that virtually every worker is entitled to. Some of these rights won’t apply if you are a freelancer and not an employee of a specific business.
First and foremost is your right to earn the national minimum wage. For 18-20-year olds, the minimum wage is £6.15 per hour, rising to £7.70 for 21-24-year olds, and finally levelling out at £8.21 for those aged 25 and over. Apprentices are entitled to £3.90 per hour and workers under the age of 18 must receive at least £4.35 an hour.
Your employer is legally required to present you with a contract that details your working hours, pay, and the basic terms and expectations of your employment. Your contract will also specify what your job title is and what it will entail exactly. Another important part of your contract is the outlining of disciplinary and grievance processes. These will tell you what will happen if you fail to live up to your end of the contract, or if you feel that your employer or other workers are breaching it on their end.
Employers are always free to offer you more rights than they are required to under law. For example, some employers may offer their female staff fully-paid maternity leave, and their male staff fully-paid paternity leave. If an employer offers you extra contractual employee rights, even if they are not legally obligated to provide them to you, they must adhere to them and provide them as per the terms of your contract.
If you suspect that an employer is failing to provide you with rights outlined in your contract, even those that they aren’t legally required to offer you, they may be in violation of employment contract law. You can speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau if you think that an employer is violating the terms of your contract.
Employers are not allowed to forcibly remove employment rights from you. However, if you agree to opt-out of certain statutory rights, such as the right to work no more than 48 hours in a week, this overrides your statutory rights. Once a contract has been signed by both parties, both sides are expected to uphold their end of it.
Who is Entitled to These Rights?
All employees are entitled to their statutory rights. However, freelancers and the self-employed, including those that work for agencies, are not classed as employees and, as such, are not entitled to the same statutory rights as employees are.
It is important for all employees to know what their rights are. If you ever feel that your rights are being violated, or you think your employer is discriminating against you on the basis of a protected characteristic, you should consider contacting a solicitor that specialises in employment law.