Businessman thumbs-up right hand

Rights: we all have them, but very few of us actually know just what we have. This may be because the topic of workplace rights can a bit of a minefield to navigate through.

Your rights as a worker are perhaps best understood when segmented into two distinct categories:

 

Statutory Rights at Work

Statutory rights are the most basic form of employee rights, and they're applicable to virtually all workers across the UK. These rules are enforced to protect workers nationwide from mistreatment, discrimination and unfair dismissal, amongst other things.

While there may be some exceptions to the rule, statutory rights are typically available to working men and women the moment they start a new job. They include basic rights such as the National Minimum Wage, itemised payslips, and holiday entitlement.

 

Contractual Rights at Work

Additional rights may also be granted to you depending on what's in your contract. These rights are part of the terms and conditions of your employment, and the specifics may differ widely from one job to the next.

Contractual rights can provide you with additional protections beyond the minimum legal requirement. Remuneration, working hours, commission rate, pension schemes and notice periods may all come under this heading.

 

Specific Rights at Work

In addition to your basic human rights, your pay and your holiday leave, there are a variety of other specific working rights available to workers across the UK.

While some of these may not ever come up in conversation or necessitate discussion, they are important for a variety of reasons.

 

Sick Pay

People can't help falling ill from time to time, and workers rarely achieve a 100% attendance rate year after year. This is what paid sick leave is for.

Sick pay is typically split into two types: statutory sick pay (SSP) and company sick pay:

  • Statutory Sick Pay - SSP is the minimum amount of pay you are legally entitled to when you become ill and require extended time off. For SSP to kick in, you should be off work with illness for a minimum of four days. As of April 2019, the rate of SSP is £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks.

  • Company Sick Pay - Your employer may (at their discretion) offer their own sick pay policy that is more generous than the SSP baseline. Also known as occupational or contractual sick pay, the terms of this are laid out by the company themselves, typically in employee contracts or job T&Cs.

 

Maternity Leave

If you're expecting a birth, you are entitled to a number of additional rights outside of your standard daily employee entitlements.

Impending parenthood is protected under employment law through maternity leave. Employed mothers are entitled to 52 weeks' statutory maternity leave, up to 39 of which must be paid.

Women are protected from discrimination and unfair dismissal during this time, while expectant mothers are also entitled to paid time off for antenatal care. Additionally, some employers may also have their own maternity schemes in place that offer additional benefits.

Fathers-to-be may also be entitled to up to 2 weeks of paternity leave. You are also allowed time off to accompany the mother for two antenatal appointments, as required.

 

Parental Rights

Children get sick just like adults do - more often, in fact. To make matters even more stressful for working parents, many schools now abide by a 48-hour rule, meaning a sick child must be free of their symptoms for at least 48 hours before being allowed to return to class.

Luckily, parental responsibilities such as this are usually covered by employment law and worker's rights. The law grants you the right to parental leave if you have worked for your employer for over a year and have official parental responsibility over the child in question.

Employers may also grant this courtesy to some people who don't meet all of the requirements. Most reasonable employers will grant time off to care for children or vulnerable family members.

 

Additional Work Rights

In addition to the above, there are additional rights that can be highly relevant to many workers across the UK. Two of the most common topics of conversation are:

 

Flexible Working

Flexible working is essentially altering your work schedule to a new pattern that differs from your old one. This includes changes such as full-time to part-time, flexitime and job sharing.

This can be approached as either a statutory request or non-statutory request, with the former representing a more official legal approach and the latter a less formal manner.

 

Agency Work

Also known as temps, agency workers typically don't enjoy some of the rights of full-time or part-time employees. This due to the fact that they are paid through an agency, not the company the worker is ultimately placed in.

While agency workers do have many of the statutory rights of typical employees, granting them basic legal protection, they aren't covered for claims relating to statutory redundancy, statutory maternity or unfair dismissal.

Read More: Inappropriate Interview Questions   Browse Latest Science Vacancies