In the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, many companies are, understandably, making attempts to cut costs where possible. Even though companies may be downsizing their operations and are becoming more cost conscious, there are, however, still minimum legal obligations that employers must meet.
As an employee, your rights in the office can be split into two distinct areas: your statutory rights and your contract of employment rights.
Your statutory rights are the rights that you have in the office, as prescribed by Parliamentary decree. In short, while your employment contract may contain a number of additional rights, as laid out by your employer, no contract of employment can take away any of your statutory rights.
While the list of statutory rights is quite lengthy, here we take a look at some of the most important rights that you have in the office.
Wages and holidays
Every full-time employee, over the age of 16, is entitled to receive the national minimum wage. In addition to this, each employee is also legally entitled to a minimum of 28 days of paid holiday each year. While your employer can increase the number of paid holidays that you are entitled to each year, they cannot reduce the number to below 28.
Health and safety
Every employee has the right to feel safe in the workplace. And it is up to your employer to ensure that this is the case.
Safety in the workplace will mean different things in different industries, but common safety precautions should include access to first aid equipment, an adequate escape route in the event of a fire, the issuance of any relevant protective clothing and a requirement that all machinery is safe.
In addition to these required precautions, you are also entitled to daily and weekly rest breaks, as well as a 48 hour cap on your working week. By adhering to these requirements, the chances of accidents occurring in the workplace are minimised. Although, even if these strict guidelines are being adhered to, accidents do happen and it’s imperative that you contact a reputable professional legal firm, such as Jefferies Solicitors, if you feel that an incident was caused because of negligence on your employer’s part.
Although, as a loyal employee, considering your own dismissal rights may not be something that you particularly derive joy from, it’s important to know your statutory entitlements, in case the worse should happen.
Upon dismissal, your employer must give you a valid reason for your dismissal, they must follow your contractual entitlements and they must not be deemed to have forced you to resign as a result of their actions.
Contract of employment
As part of your statutory rights, your employer is legally obliged to provide you with a written statement of terms of employment, within two months of you starting work. This statement lays out the specifics of your contractual agreement with an employer.
Employment contracts will also include a “custom and practice” agreement, which details how certain practices are usually carried out in the work place. Although this agreement may not form part of a written contract, it is still applicable and must be followed by you.
Digging a little deeper
Although we’ve covered some of the most basic, and important, rights that you have in the office, a more lengthy and in depth list can be found on the Citizens Advice Bureau website, which offers insight on an industry specific level.