Employee rights: What am I entitled to?

Caragh Bailey
9 min read
employee rights advice from employment law friend

Your employee rights are protected by the employment rights act 1996. They vary, depending on your employment status.
  • Read our article on employment statuses to find out which one matches your work situation best.

Knowing your employee rights is important to make sure that you are getting the work benefits and entitlements that are due to you. Don’t allow your employer to take advantage of any confusion around different employment status’ to avoid honouring your legal rights, such as holiday leave, flexible working, sick pay or parental leave.

You will need to be sure of your employee rights if you want to raise a grievance with your employer, or to take a claim to the employment tribunal.

Compare your employee rights in our quick comparison table below.

Statutory employment rights.
Self Employed
Statutory minimum wage relative to your age.
Protection from unlawful deductions to your wages
Statutory holiday pay/Paid annual leave
Rest breaks
Statutory minimum length rest breaks
To not work more than 48 hours per week (on average)
Or to waive that right if they want to.
Health and Safety at work
Your place of work must meet H&S requirements
Protection against unlawful discrimination
read more about discrimination at work
Protection for ‘whistleblowing’
(reporting unethical or illegal behaviour in work)
Equal treatment if you work part time or full time

Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental pay

Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental leave

Statutory sick pay
From the fourth day you are off sick, up to 28 weeks
Statutory notice period
(a number of weeks more work, after you’ve been told you’re being dismissed)
Protection against unfair dismissal
(after at least 2 years continuous service)
The right to request flexible working
Working hours or working from home
Statutory minimum wage relative to your age.
Protection from unlawful deductions to your wages
Time off for emergencies
For family and dependents
Statutory redundancy pay
read more about redundancy here
Freedom to join the business’ pension scheme

Rights of a worker.

Workers have fewer rights than employees.

Employee rights.

Some employee rights only apply after a certain length of continuous employment. This should be explained in your contract of employment.

For example: Amaya is at university, she has a summer job at a restaurant in her hometown. At the end of August they end her employment and they rehire her when she comes home in July. Her contract states that certain employee rights don’t apply until after two years of continuous work. Two years after starting the job, she’s not entitled to those rights, because she was not employed continuously.

By employment law, you have most of the same rights as workers and employees.
  • You have the right to collective redundancy consultation and transfer of undertakings (TUPE, this protects the terms and conditions of your employment if the company has a new owner).
  • You are not protected from unfair dismissal except for discrimination, or it relation to health and safety.
  • You are not entitled to statutory redundancy pay.
  • You are not entitled to request flexible working (except in the two weeks following parental leave).
  • You are not entitled to some statutory rights to request time off for training.
  • You must give 16 weeks notice if you want to come back early from maternity, additional paternity or adoption leave.
  • Your employer can choose to grant you more rights if they wish.
  • You can get tax relief on up to £2000 of shares if you got them before the 1st of December 2016.

Anyone can apply for an Employee Shareholder job.

If you are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, you don’t have to apply for an Employee Shareholder job that Jobcentre Plus have told you about.

You don’t have to accept a change in your contract to make you an Employee Shareholder if you’d prefer to remain an employee.

Self employed rights.

You are not covered by most employment law. Your rights and responsibilities are set out in the contract you agree with your client.

If you’re self employed and get work through an agency, you might be a contractor or an employee. If you are a contractor, you may be entitled to the same rights as a worker for the duration of your contract. If you are an employee, you may be entitled to the same rights as an employee for the duration of your contract. Check your contract or ask your agency to find out.

Frequently Asked Questions
You must tell your employer that you are pregnant at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.
(If you discovered your pregnancy less than 15 weeks before your due date, you must tell your employer as soon as possible).

You may wish to tell your employer sooner, as you won’t be entitled to pregnant workers rights until your employer knows about your pregnancy.

Once you have told your employer about your pregnancy, they should do a risk assessment do determine whether there are any risks to you and your baby, such as:
  • Heavy lifting
  • Standing or sitting for long periods without adequate breaks
  • Exposure to toxic substances
  • Long working hours

Your employer must take reasonable steps to eliminate the risks, such as:
  • Changing your shift patterns
  • Reducing your hours
  • Offering alternative work

If they cannot remove the risks they should suspend you on full pay.

Pregnant workers rights: Your entitlements

  • Paid time off for antenatal care. (Including antenatal or parenting classes if they've been recommended by a doctor or a midwife).
  • Maternity leave.
  • Maternity pay or maternity allowance.
  • Protection against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal.

The father, or your partner, is entitled to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments.

If you are unwell with pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before your maternity leave begins, your maternity leave will automatically start early.

If you are not taking maternity leave you must take 2 weeks off work after the childbirth. (Four weeks if you work in a factory).
You are protected from being treated unfavourably, compared to your equivalent colleagues who work full time, in areas such as:
  • Pay rates
  • Sick pay or maternity pay
  • Annual leave
  • Pension opportunities and benefits
  • Training and career development
  • Selection for promotion or transfer
  • Selection for redundancy
  • Opportunities for career breaks

Some benefits are applied pro-rata, this means in proportion to the hours you’ve worked.
For example: if you work half as many hours as a full time worker, you would receive half as much money as an annual bonus.

Objective justification: If your employer can show that there is good reason not to treat you the same as full time employees, they can. However, they should try and offer a compromise.
For example: Omar’s employers give full time employees private health insurance. This cost would be disproportionate for part time employees. Part time employees can opt in, but they have to pay half of their premiums.

If you think you are being treated unfavourably because you work part time
Ask your employer (in writing) for a written statement of reasons for the treatment. They must respond in 21 days.
If you aren’t satisfied with their explanation you can raise a grievance or make a claim to the employment tribunal.
You are protected from being treated unfavourably than your equivalent colleagues who work full time for the same employer, in areas such as:
  • Pay and conditions
  • Employee benefits
  • Job opportunities
  • Redundancy and Dismissal

If you think you are being treated unfavourably because you have a temporary contract, ask your employer (in writing) for a written statement of reasons for the treatment. They must respond in 21 days.

If you aren’t satisfied with their explanation you can raise a grievance or make a claim to the employment tribunal.
‘Flexible working’ covers requests to make work better suit your needs. Including: requests to work from home, to change your working schedule or start and finish times, or to work ‘flexi time’.

If you are an employee, you have the right to request flexible working after working for your employer for 26 weeks.

If your employer does not deal with your request reasonably, or refuses it without a good business reason, you can make a claim to the employment tribunal .
Anyone who has worked continuously for the same employer for two years or more is entitled to the same redundancy rights as a permanent employee.

Employees are entitled to statutory redundancy pay but workers, employee shareholders and the self employed are not.

If your selection for redundancy was based on any of the following you may be able to claim for unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal. If it was based on any of the first nine, you may also have a case for discrimination.
You will need to appeal your redundancy first.

Unfair Dismissal & Discrimination
Unfair Dismissal
  • Sex
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage or civil partnership
  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion or belief
  • Age
  • Maternity leave, birth or pregnancy
  • Challenging discrimination, or helping someone else to
  • Your trade union membership (or non membership)
  • Health and safety
  • Your working pattern
  • Paternity leave, parental or dependants leave
  • Exercising your statutory rights
  • Whistleblowing
  • Lawful strike action, up to 12 weeks
  • Taking action on health and safety grounds
  • Jury service
  • Being the trustee of a company pension scheme

Voluntary Redundancy
Your employer may ask for volunteers for redundancy, if you volunteer, they can choose whether to make you redundant or not.
Your employer cannot only offer voluntary redundancy to specific age groups as this could be age discrimination. However, they could offer early retirement to a specific age group as part of a voluntary redundancy offer, which is open to all employees.

If you’re an apprentice, the national apprenticeship service might be able to help you find another employer to complete your apprenticeship with.

Think your employee rights are not being respected?
Some employers aren't familiar with the finer details of employment law, others may abuse the confusion around your rights to their advantage. You can get in contact with us and see how we can help you to make sure your statutory employee rights are honoured.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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