Employment Law Basics
Employment law obligations in summary
Below is a very quick summary of the main points of employment law. This section is intended for headline reading only and is obviously not intended to be a complete or authoritative guide to employment law obligations. See our A-Z for more detail on key topics and links to resources to help you deal with relevant issues.
…provide employees with a written statement of particulars (or employment contract) within 2 months of the employment contract commencing.
...have employer's liabiliy insurance.
...have in place a health and safety policy (5+ employees.)
...pay employees at least the national minimum wage.
...ensure all employees are legal to work in the UK and keep records of evidence (for 2 years after the employee has left.)
…deduct tax and national insurance in accordance with HM Revenue & Customs requirements.
…pay statutory sick pay for eligible employees & keep minimum records.
…provide an itemised pay statement and pay employees in full and at agreed frequencies.
…provide at least 5.6 weeks paid holidays for all workers, equating to 28 days for a ‘full time’ worker (working 5 days per week).
…pay men and women equally for equal work.
…pay 5 days ‘guarantee payments’ to employees in a 3 month period when work cannot be provided.
…not engage in or permit direct or indirect discrimination because of someone's actual or perceived sex, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, disability, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment or marital status (as described in the Equality Act 2010.) Discrimination could occur in recruitment as well as employment, and in some cases after employment has ended. In addition to defining perceptive discrimination (where someone is subject to detriment because of a belief that they have a protected characteristic, even if in reality they don't), the Act also defines 'associative' discrimination, i.e. subjecting someone to detriment because they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic. This could occur for example if an employee is disciplined or dismissed for absences from work when those absences result from having to attend to a disabled child - the employee does not have the protected characteristic of disability, but someone they are associated with (the child) does and so the law still protects them from being subject to detriment
…not directly or indirectly engage in or permit victimisation, sexual harassment or other harassment or bullying.
(Note that In some cases of discrimination, harassment, bullying & victimisation employers are also liable ('vicarious liability) for the actions of their employees who engage in these activities, even when the employer is unaware of these actions. Employers could also be liable for the actions of customers and other third parties if they do not have adequate preventative measures in place, which could include a suitable and well communicated policy on dignity at work and equal opportunities.
…not treat part time or fixed term workers less favourably than their full time equivalents (e.g. in terms of pay per hour or benefits.)
…provide 2 weeks paid paternity leave to qualifying employees. Parents or adoptive parents may be eligible to take Shared Parental Leave (where maternity leave and pay are shared between the parents.)
…provide 52 weeks maternity LEAVE to female employees.
…provide 39 weeks maternity PAY to qualifying female employees (who have earned at least on average the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit prior to commencing maternity leave). The first 6 weeks of maternity pay must be paid at 90% of normal earnings, the remaining 33 weeks at the lower of the current statutory maternity rate (SMP) or 90% of normal earnings.
…provide 52 weeks adoption LEAVE to a male or female employee and 39 weeks adoption PAY plus a further 13 weeks additional leave unpaid. The first 6 weeks of adoption pay must be paid at 90% of normal earnings, the remainder at the lower of the current statutory adoption rate (SAP) or 90% of normal earnings.
…for eligible parents provide 18 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child up to 18 years old.
…reasonably consider requests from all employees with 26 weeks+ service regarding working flexibly.
…allow reasonable (unpaid) time off work for parents to attend to family emergencies where no alternative person is available to attend to the problem, and where time off is limited to that necessary to put alternative arrangements on place.
…allow workers to be accompanied by a fellow employee, or trade union official (paid or unpaid) during certain meetings e.g. disciplinary & grievance hearings, if they request it.
…keep personal data and records in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (and now the new GDPR regulations), including allowing employees reasonable access to inspect any information relating to them held by their employer.
…provide reasonable (unpaid) time off work (and sometimes payment) for employees who undertake certain public and trade union duties, or to care for dependants under certain circumstances.
…ensure that Working Time Regulations are adhered to, including ensuring employees do not work more than 48 hours per week on average over a 17 week period (unless a ‘waiver’ has been signed) and daily and weekly rest periods are provided. There are special provisions for the treatment of night workers, young workers, children and people in particular industries.
…not employ children of under 13 years of age, and only employ children over 13 and under 16 for certain hours and jobs and then only with appropriate risk assessments in place. The hours a child is permitted to work is much less in term time than in holidays.
…comply with the acas codes for grievance, disciplinary and dismissal procedures including allowing a hearing and an appeal hearing for each formal stage of the procedure and completing the procedure without undue delay.
...not retire employees at any particular age unless the retirement age can be objectively justified and is equally applied. 'Objective justification' will be tested in the Courts over time.
…offer a pension scheme to all qualifying employees (all businesses should now have their staging dates for the commencement of auto enrolment unless they already have a qualifying pension scheme.)
…follow established consultation procedures when carrying redundancies, collective consultation of at least 30 days where 20+ redundancies are planned, 45 days where 100+ are planned.
…provide a healthy and safe working environment.
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