Employment laws in the UK—an overview


It’s good business practice to have an understanding of basic employment laws in the UK.

You can call us for guidance on that, plus the more complex legal issues, on 0800 028 2420.

And you can also read through this guide to gain an understanding of how current laws affect your business.

What is employment law?

Employment law is a catch-all term used to describe a series of different pieces of legislation that dictate the rules of the working relationship.

You have a duty to abide by employment law and it’s important to have a good understanding of their obligations.

Failing to follow these correctly could allow staff to bring claims to an employment tribunal.

But why do we have employment law? It's in place to protect employee and worker’s rights, as well as establish ensuring your business can set important policies to assist with your daily running.

Without workplace laws, UK workers could suffer unfavourable treatment at the hands of their employer and have no way of remedying this situation. So, employment laws for employees are very important.

There are a number of specific laws that protect employees, including the right not to:

Businesses often bemoan the fact that there are fewer laws that protect employers, especially since the removal of tribunal fees in 2017.

However, laws such as the ability to dismiss staff without notice in instances of gross misconduct do provide employers with some support.

What does employment law cover?

There’s no simple answer to this as employment law covers a host of issues relating to the workplace.

Here's a quick UK employment law overview:

  • Recruitment and selection.
  • Working time and rest breaks.
  • Family-friendly leave.
  • Sick leave.
  • Dismissals and grievances.

These laws are across a number of different pieces of legislation, including the:

  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Working Time Regulations 1998.
  • Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999.

The Employment Act 2008 is another important piece of employment law legislation.

It covers the statutory procedure for resolving a dispute and the arrears payable by an employer who fails to comply with the national minimum wage requirements.

It’s important you ensure your workplace practices are in line with the relevant legislation to reduce the risk of tribunal proceedings. 

Which legislation act covers contracts of employment?

Contracts are an important part of the working relationship. An explanation of the right for staff to receive a written contract is in the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Currently, only those with recognised employee status have the right to receive a written contract. They must receive this must within two months of their start date.

However, the rules around contracts will change on 6th April 2020.

From this date onwards, those with worker status will also have entitlement to receive a written contract, which you’ll need to issue these to individuals on their first day at work going forwards.   

Written contracts will also need to include additional information for the first time, including entitlement to:

  • Family-friendly leave.
  • Clarification of any probationary periods.
  • Confirmation of which specific days and times individuals must work.

Need our help?

You can get in touch with us by requesting a call back—we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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