What are employment rights?

When we go to work we have the right to expect to be treated fairly and with respect. These expectations are laid down in law meaning that employees, irrespective of profession, working patterns, age, or gender, are protected by employee rights.

Your rights as an employee

What you can expect from your working life is based upon two factors. Your statutory rights and your contractual rights. Your contractual rights will vary depending on the contract that was agreed upon when your employment commenced. This contract outlines the terms and conditions that your employer is offering in addition to the basic employment rights they must adhere to by law. Your contract is likely to include the number of day’s annual leave you are entitled to, any probationary period and the amount of notice you have to give before you leave.

Statutory rights – an overview

Knowing your rights at work can help alleviate confusion and stress and can ensure you get what you are entitled to and are treated fairly. While there are some exceptions, most of us are entitled to the following employment rights:


Salaries can be a source of tension for many employees, as a minimum you can expect:

  • to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage
  • that your employer will not make deductions illegally from your wage
  • to receive a pay slip detailing any deductions.

Terms & conditions

As a minimum, your working terms and conditions must include:

  • he right to work without discrimination
  • that you will not be dismissed or subsequently treated unfairly if you expose workplace wrongdoings
  • to receive, within two months of your employment commencing, a written statement detailing the terms and conditions of your employment
  • daily and weekly breaks and not to be forced to work more than 48 hours in a single week
  • after one month’s employment you must be given notice if your employer intends to terminate your employment. If your employment is terminated while on maternity leave, your employer must give you a written explanation of why
  • should your employment result in a grievance or disciplinary hearing, you have the legal right to ask a trade union representative to attend the hearing with you
  • part-time workers have the same rights as their full-time counterparts, similarly, those employees on a fixed-term contract have the same rights in law as an employee on a permanent contract
  • after 26 weeks all employees have the right to request flexible working.

After two years of employment your statutory rights will extend to:

  • time off to look for a new job if your current job is to be made redundant as well as redundancy pay
  • if being dismissed you must receive a written explanation of why (if employment began on or after 6th April 2012)
  • compensation for unfair dismissal (if employment began on or after 6th April 2012)

Time off

Whether through sickness, holidays, or something else, here is what you are entitled to by law:

  • a specific number of paid annual leave days each year
  • paid time off to attend antenatal appointments, maternity/paternity leave, and adoption leave
  • unpaid time off to take care of dependents
  • unpaid time off to attend trade union activities
  • unpaid time off for study/training for employees aged 16 to 17.

If you feel you have been unfairly treated in the workplace, contact our team of employment law experts on 0330 123 1229 who can advise on whether there is a case to answer and your next steps.

If you’d like to find out more about the legal services offered by Smith Partnership, don’t hesitate to contact us via info@smithpartnership.co.uk. Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0330 123 1229.

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