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Employment Law Advice for Employers

If your business employs staff, you must treat them in accordance with employment law. It's important to understand the rights of workers to ensure that you treat them fairly.

Employees have certain rights by law (‘statutory rights’) which you must follow. If you wish to offer more generous terms than these in their employment contract then you can, but you cannot use a contract (or any other method) to take away statutory rights.

We've listed the most important employment rights below. We have also provided access to further information if you need to know more about these topics.

Pay and pensions

Employees must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. They should be given an itemised payslip explaining the amount they are being paid and anything deducted from this. You cannot make any unauthorised deductions from their pay.

See our Pay and Tax page for more on this.

You may also have to automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme.

Time off and working hours

Your employees should be able to take an appropriate amount of paid holiday each year. They are also entitled to time off in a number of other situations, including unpaid leave for trade union activities. If an employee is aged 16–17, they are entitled to take unpaid time off for study or training purposes. You should also give employees a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to care for someone who depends on them if an emergency arises.

Employees are entitled to maternity, paternity and adoption leave where applicable. Expectant mothers should also be given paid time off work to attend ante-natal appointments. Employees with children also have the right to take unpaid parental leave after being employed for a year.

After 26 weeks of working for you, all employees have the right to make a flexible working request.

Our section about Statutory Leave and Time Off covers these topics in more detail.

Health and safety

You are responsible for the health and safety of your employees and must ensure that the relevant legislation is followed for reducing risk and reporting accidents.

Employees should also be given rest breaks throughout the day and a certain number of days off each week. Most workers also have the right to work for no longer than 48 hours per week.

Take a look at our Health and Safety section for further information.

Dismissal and redundancy

If an employee has worked for you for a month or more, you must give them a notice period if they are to be dismissed. The exact length of the notice period depends on how long they have worked for you.

After working for you for two years, any employees you dismiss have the right to demand a written explanation of the reason. They will also be able to claim compensation if it turns out they were unfairly dismissed. Pregnant women, or those on maternity leave, have the right to receive a written reason for dismissal no matter how long they have worked for you.

If an employee is being made redundant and has worked for you for at least two years, they are entitled to paid time off to look for another job. They will also be able to claim redundancy pay.

For a more in-depth explanation of these issues, visit our page on Dismissing Staff and Redundancies.

Terms, conditions and contracts

Employees should be given a written statement explaining the terms and conditions of their employment within two months of starting their job. This should contain details of the business and the specifics of their role.

Part-time and fixed-term employees should have the same contractual rights as a permanent employee doing a similar job would.

A full guide to this can be found on our Contracts page.

Discrimination and grievances

All employees have a right not to be discriminated against in the workplace. They are also protected from poor treatment and dismissal as a result of ‘whistleblowing’.

You also cannot force an employee to retire before the age of 65 other than in exceptional circumstances.

When attending a disciplinary or grievance hearing, you must allow employees to be accompanied by a trade union representative if they wish to do so.

See our Employment and Workplace Discrimination section if you need more information.

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