04 Sep 2020
It is essential that, as an employer, you are knowledgeable about employment legislation and laws. There are several acts and laws that protect employees and worker’s wellbeing.
Let’s look at what employment law covers, as well as the reasons for it to exist in the first place.
What is employment law?
It is legislation that governs employer and employee relationships, including trade unions. Many of the laws look to outline and protects UK worker’s rights and employee’s rights. We find the employment rights in the UK in various acts, regulations and laws.
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 and violating employee rights in the UK could allow staff to bring claims to an employment tribunal.
Why does employment law exist?
The law exists to regulate relationships and interactions between employers and their employees. Work regulations aim to ensure a fair process is held in all areas of the business, be that in recruitment or dismissals.
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 in the UK are very important.
What does employment law cover?
It covers a wide range of issues relating to the work environment and processes. Here are some examples of what’s covered by employment law—including:
- Age discrimination
- Bullying and harassment
- Discrimination based on race, religion, sexuality or gender
- Dismissal and employee grievances
- Employment contracts
- Equal pay
- Holiday pay
- Minimum wage
- Parental leave
- Working hours
A list of employment laws in the UK
Having a list of key employment legislation in the UK is a great way for you to keep on top of them. There are a core set of acts that embody the main parts of employment law.
By regularly reminding yourself of these laws and your responsibilities as an employer, you are far less likely to break them inadvertently.
Here are the most important pieces of employment law legislation and key information on these laws.
- Employment Rights Act 1996: An update to older Labour Law, this act covers the rights of employees in situations such as dismissal, unfair dismissal, paternity leave, maternity leave and redundancy.
- National Minimum Wage Act 1998: This act sets out the NMW for employees and employers across the UK. The government regularly reviews this to keep it in line with inflation, etc.
- Employment Relations Act 1999: Establishes a number of rights at work for trade union recognition, derecognition, and industrial actions.
- The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999: Statutory legislation that governs the rights of employees for time off work for
- Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000: A UK labour law measure that requires that employers give people on part-time contracts comparable treatment to people on full-time contracts who do the same jobs.
- Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006: Protection of existing employees rights and any employment contracts or promises when a company goes through a business transfer. This is
- The Equality Act 2010: An act that prevents discrimination in the workplace and the recruitment process. It identifies protected characteristics that cannot be used as a reason for any workplace decisions—unless it is a decision to make suitable arrangements to accommodate them in the workplace.
- Agency Workers Regulations 2010: Statutory legislation that prevents discrimination of people who work for employment agencies. Treat them equally in pay and working time when compared to full-time counterparts who do the same work.
The types of employee rights in the UK
An employee’s rights are determined by their employment status. This can be determined by a few factors:
- The type of employment
- Method of payment
- Who pays your tax
There are 3 main types of employment status under the law:
- Employee: those who have an employment contract)
- Worker: those who have a contract for services
- Self-employed: owners of a company, freelancers or contractors
As an employee, they have rights set out by employment law. These can include:
- A right to written terms which outline their job rights and responsibilities, as a minimum.
- The right to sick, holiday and parental leave pay
- The right to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after 2 years of service.
As a worker, they have rights set out by employment law. They are slightly different to employees but are still protected by many of the same laws. These can include:
- A right to written terms which outline their job rights and responsibilities.
- The right to national minimum wage
- The right to paid holiday
- Protection against unlawful discrimination
Rights for the self-employed
Despite the nature of the employment type, those who are self employed are still protected by employment law legislation. It is not as comprehensive as the previous employment statuses, but there are still some that should be taken into account. They are as follows:
- Protection for their health and safety on a client's premises
- Protection against discrimination
What is the main piece of health and safety legislation?
While not directly employment law, health and safety legislation also affects employer and employee relationships. You need to understand your responsibilities towards health and safety in the workplace when navigating employee issues.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety measures in Great Britain. It's sometimes referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA.
These acts place a duty on employers to protect their health, safety and welfare while at work. This applies to all of those on the premises, be that workers, temps or even clients and the general public.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) was set up under HASAWA. It enforce these duties and to penalise non-compliance.
What are the 3 basic employment rights for a worker in health and safety?
The various acts and legislation outline that all employees or workers have 3 basic rights when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
- The right to know: Employers must ensure they make their employees or workers aware of the hazards presented by people, equipment, the environment or the processes. And they may receive training and information about dangerous aspects of the workplace.
- The right to participate: Employees may be involved in identifying, assessing and controlling health and safety hazards.
- The right to refuse unsafe work: It also allows them to refuse work they believe is likely to endanger themselves or others. The act protects workers from reprisal should they refuse.
This shows that, while not strictly employment law, these rights and acts have an effect on employee and employer relationships.
For example, dismissal for refusal to work in an unsafe environment would be unlawful under health and safety rather than employment law.
Other important legislation
There are also several other pieces of UK legislation that, although not solely related to employment law, contain key employment law information. These are:
- Bribery Act 2010: Covers the criminal law relating to any act of bribery. It’s a serious issue in any working environment requires vigilance to avoid.
- Data Protection Act 2018: A national law complementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 1998. It regulates how your business stores employee and customer information.
- Working Time Regulations 1998: Generally thought of as health & safety legislation. But it still contains important rules you should follow, particularly the working hours and holidays that staff are entitled to.
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