What are your legal rights as an employee
BY Nick Anderson
The current job market trends indicate a sudden spike in job cuts and retrenchment – often politely termed as organizational restructure in the business community. Recent reports indicate that those who commenced work after the 6th of April this year face the risk of being dismissed without a fair reason within the next two years; while those employed earlier were fortunate to suffer the same risk for just a year. Given such uncertain times, it is important for those with a job or more importantly for those who have been fired to realize that they are entitled to certain legal rights as an employee.
There are basically two sets of rights that are currently in force. One being the statutory rights formulated by the UK Government and the other one, the rights specified in the job contract papers. Statutory rights cover the basic minimum privileges that an employee is entitled to, while contract rights may offer additional privileges, in which case rules that are more beneficial to the employee take precedence.
For example, a statutory right on paid leave allows full-time employees to avail 28 days of paid leave each year once they have completed one full year of service with a single employer. If the contract right offers lesser number of paid leaves a year, then the statutory right will prevail. In case the employment conditions allow for more number of paid leaves on an annual basis, the contract terms would then prevail.
Here are few of the rights that an employee must be aware of, and which may come in handy at the workplace and are worth legally contesting for:
• A written job contract outlining the terms of employment
• Minimum wages in accordance with the national industry standards
• Flexible working hours, paid paternity or adoption leave
• Health and safety standards in terms of working conditions and work hours
• No gender or racial discrimination at the workplace
• Compensations for unfair job dismissal or contract termination
• Redundancy pay if dismissed as redundant
• Not avenged for “whistle-blowing” or bringing malpractices to light
There are several other rights that the employee is entitled to, but may not really matter in reality. A few rights, however, are worth fighting for, especially when it is a matter of personal dignity or fair monetary compensations. Few rights are effective only when the employee has completed a full year of service with a specific employer, while few of the other rights are applicable only to full-time employees.
Employees are usually encouraged to approach their superiors to get matters resolved in an informal manner. If such informal interactions do not work out, a formal grievance reporting process can be initiated. Employments tribunals help address issues regarding dismissals, pay packages, discrimination, along with health and safety concerns.
Establishing Rights at the Workplace
Escalating a rights issue to the Employment tribunal is best done with professional employment lawyers advice, as it may result in job loss. The complaint should be registered within a specific time frame from the day the right was violated.
Employment Rights for Casual Workers
Casual worker’s rights are no different from full-time employees, but it does depend on their employment status. Casual workers fall under three different categories – self-employed, worker or an employee. While employees and workers are offered almost all rights as full-time employees, contract workers are governed by the rights outlined in their contracts and are bound to vary across different contracts or employers. However, casual workers cannot be discriminated or treated differently just because they work part-time or for a shorter term