Employment Law

  • Employment Law
two people at a desk with documents
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss why employment law is important, relevant legislations, as well as what happens if you don't stick to them.

When running a business, there are certain rules and laws that you must comply with. These are in place to protect employees from unfair treatment.

An example of this is providing the correct number of holidays to your staff. Failure to do so can lead to claims being raised against you to an employment tribunal. As a result, you might face both financial and reputational damages.

In this guide, we'll discuss why employment law is important, relevant legislations, as well as what happens if you don't comply with them.

What is employment law?

Employment law is in place to protect the relationship between the employer and employee, as well as their relationship with trade unions. Put simply, it guarantees employee rights - and enables them to receive entitlements, such as notice period upon termination or annual leave.

This legislation is in place to ensure employers don't take advantage of their staff. These laws are enforced throughout the recruitment process, during employment, as well as when it comes to an end - whether this is through redundancy, resignation, or termination.

Why is employment law important?

Employment law is vitally important as it protects the employment rights of people working with you. Without employment laws, employers could mistreat their staff and have no way of resolving the situation.

These laws - alongside the Acas statutory code of practice on disciplinaries and grievances, ensures a fair process is followed in all areas of employment, such as during recruitment and dismissals. If you fail to treat staff fairly, they could raise a claim to an employment tribunal.

What does employment law cover?

Employment law is a large area and covers a wide range of topics that make up an employment relationship. For example, there are employment laws in place to ensure harassment doesn't occur in the workplace. Other areas of employment law include:

  • Indirect and direct discrimination: Such as treating someone differently due to their age, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. These are known as protected characteristics.
  • Dismissal: For example, employers must avoid unfair dismissal, and ensure all employees are dismissed as part of a fair and proper process.
  • Employment contracts: The law states that employment contracts must be provided upon commencement. This includes a full-time employment contract, part-time, or a temporary employee. Employment contracts include details surrounding someone's employment - for example, job descriptions and notice periods.
  • Equal pay: Ensuring all employees are paid fairly and equally for the work they do.
  • Leave and absence: You must provide the correct leave entitlements to all your employees. This includes annual leave, maternity leave, and parental leave.
  • Pay and benefits: Make sure you provide your employees with payments they're legally entitled to. Such as statutory sick pay (SSP), holiday pay, statutory maternity pay, National Minimum Wage, and National Living Wage.
  • Redundancy: Ensuring all employers follow a fair process if they need to make redundancies. This includes a consultation process, redundancy pay and not discriminating against certain members of staff.
  • Working hours: Making sure employees don't work more than the legal requirement each week, and ensuring they receive the correct amount of breaks.

A full list of UK employment laws and legislation

There are many laws in place to protect UK workers during their employment. Some of them you'll use regularly, whilst others you might only encounter occasionally.

Let's discuss them in more detail:

Employment Relations Act 1999

The Employment Relations Act 1999 explains the rights at work for trade union recognition, derecognition, and industrial actions.

As well as the above, it also established the right for an employee to be accompanied to a disciplinary hearing.

Employment Rights Act 1996

The Employment Rights Act 1996 is arguably one of the most important employment laws within the UK. It was introduced following an update to the older Labour Law and covers a wide range of employment issues, such as:

  • Dismissal.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Unfair dismissal.
  • Maternity leave.
  • Paternity leave.
  • Redundancy.

The act is in place to ensure all your employees are protected and receive their basic rights.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 was introduced to prevent all forms of discrimination from happening in the workplace and within the recruitment process. Any employees with protected characteristics must never receive unfair treatment because of it.

For example, an individual shouldn’t be mistreated because of their age, race, or gender. Doing so could be discrimination, and might lead to claims being raised against you and the company at an employment tribunal.

Agency Worker Regulations 2010

Agency Worker Regulations are in place to ensure equal treatment to agency workers. After 12 weeks, they're entitled to the same rights they would have received if they were doing the same job and were recruited by the hirer.

Agency workers also have the same rights to the National Minimum Wage and statutory holiday pay.

Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999

The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 were introduced to outline the rights of any new parents you have working for you. Under UK employment law, any staff with children under the age of 18 are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave throughout the year to look after them.

Alongside this, a new mother is entitled to maternity leave straight after the birth of their child. Employees on maternity leave are legally entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay whilst away from work – if they satisfy the eligibility criteria.

National Minimum Wage Act 1998

Under the law, UK employers are legally entitled to pay a minimum rate of pay to their employees depending on their age. There are also increases each year that must be adhered to.

There are exceptions to this, for example, if you have apprentices working for you. Remember, all employees over the age of 23 are legally entitled to the National Living Wage.

Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000

The Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000 were introduced to ensure part-time workers receive comparable treatment to what they would if they worked full time.

Under these regulations, people on part-time contracts must be given comparable treatment to their full-time colleagues. For example, receiving the same rate of Statutory Sick Pay.

Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE)

TUPE regulations protect employees during the process of a business transfer. For example, if your company is bought by a larger one.

These regulations help with any concerns that employees may have surrounding job security. Not to mention, it ensures staff that apply transfer with full employment continuity, and that their terms and conditions are intact.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a piece of legislation that ensures each person is safe whilst at work. The act makes clear the duty that businesses have to protect the health, safety, and welfare of anyone they employ.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was set up under the act to enforce these rules and penalise those who break them. Those in the UK who work in Health & Safety have three basic employment rights:

  1. The right to know: Employees must be made aware of any hazards on site, equipment, or processes.
  2. The right to participate: Employees should be involved in the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling Health & Safety hazards.
  3. The right to refuse unsafe work: Employees have a right to refuse work if they believe it could be a danger to themselves or others. They must never face reprisal for doing so.

Data Protection Act 2018

The Data Protection Act 2018 works in partnership with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and is in place to regulate how companies process employee and customer data.

Under these two legislations, any personal data must be accurate, stored securely, and used transparently. Employees can request a copy of their personal data that the company processes.

Working Time Regulations 1998

The Working Time Regulations 1998 ensures employers follow the rules in terms of working hours, breaks at work, and any holiday entitlement.

How many breaks someone is entitled to is age-dependent, so it's important you become familiar with them. For example, under 18’s are usually entitled to a 30 minute rest break if they work more than 4.5 hours.

What happens if you breach employment law?

Breaching employment law is an important matter and must be avoided at all costs. Otherwise, you could face financial damages. For example, if an employee feels they're treated differently due to their age, they may raise a discrimination claim against you and the company.

As well as this, if a staff member feels they've been dismissed unfairly - they could choose to raise an unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal.

Get expert advice on UK employment law from Peninsula

Anyone who works for you is legally entitled to certain employment rights. And to make sure they receive these, there are laws in place.

Not providing these entitlements will fail to enforce the employment relationship, and increase the likelihood of claims being raised against you. This could lead to both financial and reputational damages.

Peninsula offers expert advice on employment law. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

FAQs

Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a man and woman in supermarket uniform

    Guide

    HR in Retail

    In this guide, we'll discuss why HR in retail can be difficult, the challenges you might face, and how to manage them.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Business Advice
  • a man and woman in hard hats outside warehouse looking at computer

    Guide

    Night Workers

    In this guide, we'll discuss night work, the rights of night workers, and what you must do to comply with the law.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employment Law
  • a woman sat at a desk and computer

    Guide

    What is HR Software?

    In this guide, we'll discuss HR systems, the benefits of using HR software, and how Peninsula can make your HR processes easier.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Business Advice
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.