Statutory employee rights: Part 2

 An excerpt from Lawpack's Employment Contracts Kit.

In Part 2 of our article 'The statutory rights of employees' find out more on the rights employees are automatically entitled to when entering into an employment contract with you and how you, as an employer, can comply with employment law:

Employee Statutory Right #11: Time off

a) Paid holiday. All of your employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (e.g. 28 days for someone working a five-day week). Part-time workers are entitled to the same level of holiday pro rata. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory holiday entitlement. 

b) Public duties. An employee is entitled to reasonable time off for the purposes of performing their public duties. There is no statutory right for any employee to have time off for jury service or attending court as a witness, but preventing such attendance would be in contempt of court.

c) Trade union activities, duties and training. Officials of independent trade unions are entitled to time off with pay to perform duties concerned with the industrial relations in the company and to undergo training. There is also a right to time off to accompany another worker at disciplinary and grievance hearings.

d) Elected employee representatives. An employee who has been elected for consultation purposes for collective redundancies or the transfer of an undertaking is entitled to reasonable paid time off to perform the functions of a representative. They also have the right to paid time off to undergo training.

e) Safety representatives. Safety representatives who have been appointed by recognised trade unions are entitled to paid time off during working time to carry out their functions and undergo training in aspects of these functions. Representatives of non-unionised workplaces are also entitled to paid time off to carry out their functions and undergo training.

f) Pension scheme trustees. Pension scheme trustees of the the company’s own scheme are entitled to time off during working hours for performing the duties of a trustee or for training in connection with those duties.

g) Maternity leave, including antenatal care, or adoption leave. All female employees who are expecting a baby are entitled to time off for antenatal care and to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave, and after 26 weeks’ continuous service at her 26th week of pregnancy, additional maternity leave of a further 26 weeks. Employees are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave regardless of their length of service. Male and female employees who adopt a child are entitled to 52 weeks’ adoption leave.

Maternity leave and adoption leave are discussed in more detail in our Employment Law Made Easy Guide by specialist employment law solicitor Melanie Slocombe.

h) Redundancy. An employee who is declared redundant and has at least two years’ continuity of employment is entitled to reasonable, paid time off to look for a new job or to arrange training for a new job. An employee may raise a complaint with an employment tribunal if you refuse to allow such time off or fail to pay for it.

i) Parental leave. Both men and women are entitled to take up to 13 weeks’ unpaid leave from work up until the child’s fifth birthday, for the purpose of caring for a child for whom they have responsibility (or 18 weeks’ if the child is disabled up until their 18th birthday). Parental leave is discussed in more detail in our Employment Law Made Easy Guide.

j) Paternity leave. Employees have a right to take up to 2 weeks’ paternity leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child where the child was born or adopted on or after 6 April 2003. Paternity leave is discussed in more detail in in our Employment Law Made Easy Guide

k) Time off for dependants. There is also a right for employees to take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with incidents involving dependants.

Employee Statutory Right #12: Protected rights on the transfer of a trade or business

When a trade or business is transferred from one employer to another, the employees of that trade or business automatically become employees of the new employer, as if their employment contract were originally made with the new employer. The service is counted as continuous from the date on which the employment commenced with the first employer.

Employee Statutory Right #13: Not to be unfairly dismissed

Dismissal of an employee without good reason or without following a fair procedure is likely to be unfair, and thus liable to an unfair dismissal claim in an employment tribunal. The right not to be unfairly dismissed is a statutory right, effective when the employment contract is entered into. In most circumstances it's subject to the employee having at least one year’s service, although this isn't always the case (e.g. if dismissal is for a maternity-related reason). In addition, there are circumstances when dismissal will be automatically unfair.

The subject of unfair dismissal is covered in more depth in our Employment Law Made Easy Guide

Employee Statutory Right #14: Written reasons for dismissal (upon request) 

An employee doesn't have an automatic right to a written statement of reasons for dismissal. But if the employee has one year’s continuous service and asks you for such a statement, you must provide one. In practice, it is a good idea to give the dismissed employee the reasons for dismissal in the notice of termination.

Employee Statutory Right #15: Written statement of terms and conditions of employment

All employees have a right to be provided with a written statement of the terms and conditions of their employment, unless their employment is for a period of less than one month. 

The information that you provide may be given in instalments, but certain items must be given in a single document, described as the ‘principal statement’. Reference to other documents is permitted only in relation to certain limited matters. 

The principal statement doesn't automatically constitute an employment contract, even if the employee acknowledges receipt of it with their signature. To be enforceable, the parties must expressly agree that it is the employment contract

It's quite usual for the particulars which constitute the written statement of terms and conditions to be incorporated into the employment contract, because a separate document doesn't then have to be issued to the employee. 

The contracts of employment included in our Employment Contracts Kit and on our website incorporate all the particulars that must be included in the principal statement.

Employee Statutory Right #16: Minimum wage

An employee’s rate of pay must not be below the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The wage differs for those in the first six months of a new job doing specific training, for those aged 18-21 and for those aged 22 and above. People aged 16 and 17, those on formal apprenticeships and those working and living as part of a family (e.g. a live-in nanny) are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Employee Statutory Right #17: Sunday shop working

A person employed as a shop worker, except those employed to work only on Sunday, has the following rights:

  • the right not to be dismissed for refusing to work on Sundays;
  • the right not to be selected for redundancy for refusing to work on Sundays;
  • the right not to suffer any other detriment for refusing to work on Sundays.

Employee Statutory Right #18: Access to Stakeholder Pensions

If you employ more than five full-time employees (including directors), you're required to offer your employees access to Stakeholder Pensions, unless you already provide a pension scheme that meets certain criteria. Stakeholder Pensions are not compulsory for the employee.

Employee Statutory Right #19: Right to request flexible working

Certain employees (both male and female) have the right to request flexible working for the purpose of caring for a child or an adult for whom they are a carer and employers have a legal duty to consider such applications. This right to flexible working is discussed in more detail in our Employment Law Made Easy Guide

Read more on employee statutory rights #1 - #10 with our article The Statutory Rights of Employees: Part 1

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Published on: October 11, 2010

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