All businesses across the UK should provide their employees with their legal rights and responsibilities. Such as wages, leave entitlements and, protection from discrimination.
Failure to provide your staff with their entitlements is against the law and could lead to a claim being raised against you. If found guilty, you could be made to pay out heavy financial damages, as well as it being a stain on your business' reputation.
In this guide, we'll discuss what employment law is, what it covers, and the different laws you must follow.
What is employment law?
Employment law is legislation that helps to protect relationships between employers and employees. The laws are in place to ensure your workplace is safe and that you're protecting your employee’s rights.
You must adhere to the law and understand your obligations.
Failure to follow employment law could lead to claims being raised against you at a tribunal. This could mean heavy fines and other financial damages being awarded.
Why is employment law important?
Employment laws are a crucial part of running a successful business. These laws and regulations help to ensure your employees are treated fairly.
They are important for making sure a fair process is followed before, during, and after someone has worked for you.
So, as an employer, you must know what employment laws in the UK cover.
What issues does employment law cover?
Employment law in the UK covers a wide range of issues involved in employment. Understanding which ones can go a long way to ensuring your company acts on the right side of the law.
Below are some common areas covered:
- Dismissal and grievances.
- Employment contracts.
- Holiday entitlement and pay.
- Maternity, parental, or paternity leave.
- Pay and benefits.
- Working hours.
What are the employment legislations in the UK?
There are many types of employment legislation in place to protect your staff. Employment laws are vital, you must understand them.
Some of the legislation you'll use daily, such as working hours. But some employment laws will only be used occasionally, such as ones that deal directly with issues relating to maternity leave.
In essence, the legislation is in place to ensure employment contracts are carried out legally. As well as protecting employees from unfair dismissal or having to file a discrimination claim.
- Employment Relations Act 1996: The Employment Relations Act 1996 created the right for staff to be accompanied during disciplinary or grievance hearings. This act also strengthened employee rights to industrial action.
- Employment Rights Act 1996: The Employment Rights Act covers all aspects of working. This act is arguably the most important employment law, the act covers issues such as contracts, unfair dismissal, and redundancy.
- Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999: These outline employee rights to time off work following the birth of a child. Along with parental leave, maternity leave is a legal obligation. By law, employees are entitled to a maximum of 18 weeks of work to look after their families.
- National Minimum Wage Act 1998: The National Minimum Wage Act is in place to ensure employees receive the amount they are entitled to, depending on their age. You must be aware of the minimum wage for each age group, failure to pay your staff correctly is against employment law.
- Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000: These are in place to protect part-time workers. This law requires you to give comparable treatment to both full-time and part-time staff who do the same job.
- Transfer of Undertakings (Protecting of Employment) Regulations 2006: TUPE regulations are in place to protect employees who are concerned about their job security during a business transfer. These regulations protect existing rights, employment contracts, or promises before the takeover.
- The Equality Act 2010: The act is in place to protect employees against discrimination in the workplace during the recruitment process and employment. The act outlines protected characteristics that protect employees against unfair treatment. They are:
- Pregnancy and maternity.
- Gender reassignment.
- Disability (you must make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees).
- Marriage and civil partnership.
- Sexual orientation.
- Agency Workers Regulations 2006: These are in place to ensure the protection of people who work for employment agencies. Employers must treat agency workers equally to regular workers. This includes wages, working time, and breaks.
- Health & Safety at Work Act 1974: This act is in place to ensure you provide all your staff with a safe working environment. For example, carrying out risk assessments across your site.
There are other employment laws that are important to both employers and employees. You must become familiar with the following:
- Data Protection Act 2018 (which combines the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 1998): This act regulates how a business can use and store the personal details of their staff and customers.
- Bribery Act 2010: This act regulates and covers bribery in the workplace. You must avoid bribery at all times in your working environment.
- Working Time Regulations 1998: This employment legislation outlines anything to do with working time. Such as minimum and maximum working hours, and break entitlements.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to provide your staff with a safe workplace. So you must understand how to keep your employee safe.
What rights to health & safety do workers have?
There are three basic health & safety employment rights for all your employees.
Depending on the nature of your business, employers may have other health & safety requirements. Such as working with hazardous substances or manual handling.
However, all your employees have rights to health & safety protection. You must be aware of them and understand their importance:
- The right to know: You must make an employee or worker know of the potential hazards in an area they are working in. These include people, the equipment they are using, or the process they have to follow. Employers must provide training where required.
- The right to participate: You may allow an employee to be involved in identifying, assessing, or controlling health and safety hazards.
- The right to refuse unsafe work: An employee is allowed to refuse to work in an area they believe could be a danger. The Health and Safety at Work Act protects them from reprisal following the refusal.
What are the main employment statuses in the UK?
Within a company, there may be different types of staff. For example, full-time and part-time employees, or workers.
As an employer, you need to understand the different rights and laws of each member of staff. An employee signs an employment contract before starting work, with a worker having a contract for their service.
Let's discuss the different rights each type of worker has.
UK employee rights
An employee has a set of rights that you must stick to, failure to do so is against employment law. These include:
- The right to terms that outline their role and responsibilities of the job.
- The right to sick, holiday, maternity, and paternity leave pay.
- The right to claim for redundancy and unfair dismissal (after at least two years of service).
UK worker rights
Each worker has their rights set out by clear employment law. They are slightly different from the rights of an employee, but employers must understand them. These include:
- The right to terms that outline their role and responsibilities of the job.
- The right to receive the national minimum wage.
- The right to receive their paid holiday entitlement.
- The right to receive pay slips.
- Protection against unlawful discrimination by employers.
Get expert advice on employment law from Peninsula
As an employer, you must be aware of the different employment laws in the UK. They outline the basic requirements that you must provide to all your staff, for example, wages and leave entitlements.
Failure to provide your staff with your legal obligations is against employment law and claims being made against you.
Peninsula offers employment services and 24/7 HR advice to tackle any employment law issue. We take care of everything when you work with our employment law experts. Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 051 3687 and book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants.