Employment Law

08 December 2019

All businesses across the UK should provide their employees with their legal rights and responsibilities. These can range from leave entitlements to 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. Some breaches can lead to unlimited fines, imprisonment, and business closure.

In this guide, we'll discuss what employment law is, the different types of laws, and how to keep complaints with your legal obligations.

What is employment law?

Employment law are legal regulations that protect relationships between employers and employees. The laws are in place to ensure your workplace is safe and that your employee's rights are protected.

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 are covered can go a long way to ensuring you act on the right side of the law.

Below are some common areas covered:

Piles of money.

Examples of employment laws in the UK

There are many types of employment legislation in place which protect your staff. Employment laws are vital, you must understand them.

Some of the legislation you'll use daily, such as working hours and break entitlements. But some employment laws will only be used occasionally, such as ones that deal directly with issues relating to maternity leave.

Here are examples of employment laws in the UK.

Employment Relations Act 1999

The Employment Relations Act 1999 was introduced to provide recognition of trade union bodies. As well as the right for staff to be accompanied during disciplinary or grievance hearings.

This act strengthened employee rights to industrial action.

Employment Rights Act 1996

The Employment Rights Act covers all aspects of working. This act was brought in to update older UK labour laws.

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 off 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:

  • Employees under 18: £4.81 per hour.
  • Employees aged between 18 and 20: £6.83 per hour.
  • Employees aged 21 and 22: £9.18 per hour.
  • The National living wage for employees aged 23 and over: £50 per hour.

Employers have a legal requirement to pay their employees the correct amount. Failure to do so is against UK law.

Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000

These are in place to protect any part-time workers you have. This law requires you to give comparable treatment to both full-time and part-time workers who do the same job.

Common examples of jobs that use part-time staff are in retail, hospitality, and leisure.

Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006

TUPE regulations are in place to protect employees who are concerned about their job security during a business transfer. For example, if a large company has purchased a smaller one.

These regulations protect existing rights, employment contracts, or promises before the takeover.

Equality Act 2010

The act is in place to protect employees against discrimination during the recruitment process and employment.

The act outlines protected characteristics that protect employees against unfair treatment. They are:

  • Religion or belief.
  • Pregnancy and maternity.
  • Gender reassignment.
  • Marriage and civil partnership.
  • Sexual orientation.

Agency Workers Regulations 2010

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.

The right to equal treatment initiates after 12 weeks. And the right to shared facilities and services start from day one of employment.

Other UK employment legislations

Other employment laws that are important to both employers and employees. It's important you become familiar with the following:

  • Data Protection Act 2018 (which comes from 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 always avoid bribery in your working environment.
  • Working Time Regulations 1998: This employment legislation outlines anything to do with working time. Such as the maximum working hours, and break entitlements.

As an employer, you must also be aware of UK health & safety laws. You have a duty of care to provide your staff with a safe workplace.

A person working with power tools.

What employment law covers health & safety in the UK?

Workplace safety and welfare is regulated under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

This act is in place to ensure you provide all your staff with a safe working environment.

The act ensures you’re providing a safe workplace in your company. For example, carrying out risk assessments, providing staff training, and adequate safety equipment.

Depending on the nature of your business, employers may have other health & safety requirements. Such as working with hazardous substances or manual handling.

However, staff who work in health & safety have employment rights to which you must adhere to.

What rights do workers in health & safety have?

There are three basic employment rights for people who work in health & safety. You must be aware of them and understand their importance:

  1. 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 must follow. Employers must provide training where required.
  2. The right to participate: You may allow an employee to be involved in identifying, assessing, or controlling health and safety hazards.
  3. 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.

A person working on a laptop.

What are the main employment statuses in the UK?

Within a company, there may be different types of staff. For example, full-time or part-time workers.

As an employer, you need to understand the different rights and laws that apply to each member of staff. An employee signs an employment contract before starting. A worker might start on the first day of their verbal agreement.

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 which outline their role and responsibilities (as known as a written statement of employment particulars).
  • The right to sick, holiday, maternity, and paternity leave and pay.
  • The right to claim for redundancy and unfair dismissal (after at least two years of service unless unfair dismissal is concerned).

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 (as known as a written statement of employment particulars).
  • 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.

As an employer, you need to be aware of what to include when creating employment contracts for your staff.

Two people working on a contract.

What is an employment contract?

Employment contracts are written agreements between both employee and employer that clearly state the terms and conditions of their job.

The contract outlines the basic responsibilities, duties, and hours of work. Along with many other elements of their role. They may also outline any company guidelines surrounding overtime, or vehicle mileage.

What is unfair dismissal?

Unfair dismissal is when an employer doesn't act fairly during a job termination. Under the legislation, you must follow a fair process when dismissing staff.

If you commit unfair dismissal against an employee, they may raise a claim against you to a tribunal. If found guilty, you may have to pay heavy financial damages.

What is discrimination in the workplace?

Discrimination in the workplace is when an employee is treated differently due to a certain characteristic. These protected characteristics are outlined in the Equality Act 2010.

Due to disability being one of the protected characteristics, you must consider making reasonable adjustments. These adjustments are a requirement to make their working life easier.

Treating an employee differently due to holding one of the protected characteristics is against employment law. This could lead to a discrimination claim being raised.

Get expert advice on employment law with 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, like wages and leave entitlements.

Failure to meet legal obligations is against employment law – which can lead to tribunal claims, compensation penalties, and even imprisonment.

Peninsula offers employment services and unlimited 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.

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