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Employment Law

Employment Law in the UK

Employment law is a complex area of law that covers a wide range of issues, including the hiring and firing of employees, the payment of wages and benefits, the provision of safe working conditions, and the resolution of workplace disputes.

As an employer, it is important to be aware of the employment laws that apply to your business. By understanding your obligations, you can help to ensure that you are complying with the law and protecting the rights of your employees.

What is employment law?

Employment law is the body of law that governs the relationship between employers and employees. It is designed to protect the rights of both employers and employees, and to ensure that the workplace is fair and equitable.

Why does it exist?

Employment law exists to protect the rights of employees and workers. It ensures that employees are treated fairly and that they have access to basic rights, such as the right to a safe working environment and the right to be paid a fair wage.

What does it cover?

Employment law covers a wide range of issues, including:

  • Hiring and firing: Employment law sets out the rules for how employers can hire and fire employees. For example, employers are generally not allowed to fire employees for discriminatory reasons, such as their race, religion, or gender.
  • Wages and benefits: Employment law sets out the minimum wage that employers must pay their employees. It also sets out the requirements for providing benefits, such as health insurance and paid holidays.
  • Safe working conditions: Employment law requires employers to provide safe working conditions for their employees. This includes providing adequate safety equipment and training, and taking steps to prevent workplace hazards.
  • Workplace disputes: Employment law provides a framework for resolving workplace disputes. This may involve mediation, arbitration, or litigation.

Here are some of the most important pieces of employment legislation in the UK. Click on a title to view the full legislation on gov.uk.

Agency Workers Regulations 2010
Provides certain employment rights and protections for agency workers, including equal treatment regarding pay and working conditions.
Law from 1st October 2011
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009
Provides a statutory framework for apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning. The Act sets out the requirements for apprenticeships, including the need for employers to provide training and assessment.
Law from 18 December 2009
Bribery Act 2010
Criminalises bribery and corruption.
Law from 2010
Data Protection Act 2018
Regulates the processing of personal data, protecting individuals' rights and ensuring organizations handle personal data lawfully and securely.
Law from 25th May 2018
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled employees.
Law from 8th November 1995
Employment Act 2002
Introduced various employment rights and provisions, including unfair dismissal, redundancy, and parental leave.
Law from 6th April 2003
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
Prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age in employment. The regulations cover issues such as recruitment, selection, promotion, and pay.
Law from 1 October 2006
Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
Protects individuals from discrimination based on religion or belief in employment, providing equal opportunities and fair treatment.
Law from 2nd December 2003
Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2007
Prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex in employment. The regulations cover issues such as recruitment, selection, promotion, and pay.
Law from 1 December 2007
Employment Relations Act 1999
Establishes a number of rights at work for trade union recognition, derecognition, and industrial actions.
Law from 1999
Employment Rights Act 1996
Consolidates various employment rights, including the right to a written statement of terms and conditions, protection against unfair dismissal, and redundancy rights.
Law from 22nd May 1996
Equality Act 2010
Consolidated and streamlined anti-discrimination laws, promoting equality and protecting individuals from discrimination in various areas of life.
Law from 1st October 2010
Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002
Prohibits discrimination against fixed-term employees. The regulations cover issues such as pay, working time, and access to benefits.
Law from 1 October 2002
Flexible Working Regulations 2014
Gives employees the right to request flexible working arrangements, promoting work-life balance and flexibility in the workplace.
Law from 30th June 2014
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Sets out data protection principles and requirements for the processing of personal data, enhancing individuals' rights and imposing obligations on organisations.
Law from 25th May 2018
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
Sets out the general duties of employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of employees and others affected by their work activities.
Law from 4th July 1974
Human Rights Act 1998
Enshrines a number of human rights, including the right to work, the right to fair pay, and the right to be protected from discrimination, into UK law. The Act also allows individuals to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights if they believe that their human rights have been violated.
Law from 2 October 2000
Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999
Provides rights and entitlements for employees regarding maternity, paternity, adoption, and parental leave, as well as time off for antenatal appointments.
Law from 15th December 1999
Modern Slavery Act 2015
Aims to prevent and combat modern slavery and human trafficking, requiring organisations to disclose efforts to address these issues in their supply chains.
Law from 29th October 2015
National Minimum Wage Act 1998
Sets minimum wage rates that employees must be paid, ensuring workers receive fair compensation for their work.
Law from 1st April 1999
Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
Provides part-time workers with protection against less favorable treatment compared to full-time workers, ensuring equal treatment in terms of employment rights.
Law from 1st July 2000
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Protects individuals from harassment, including workplace harassment, by making it a criminal offense to pursue a course of conduct that amounts to harassment.
Law from 16th June 1997
Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984
Provides legal powers to public health authorities to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases. The act grants authorities the ability to issue measures such as quarantine, isolation, and screening to protect public health.
Law from 1 January 1985
Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
Provides protection for whistleblowers who disclose certain types of wrongdoing in the workplace, safeguarding them from unfair treatment or dismissal.
Law from 2nd July 1999
Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
Governs the rights and responsibilities of trade unions, including collective bargaining, industrial action, and trade union recognition.
Law from 17th June 1992
Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006
Protection of existing employees' rights and any employment contracts or promises when a company goes through a business transfer.
Law from 2006
Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) Act 1998
Protects whistleblowers who disclose certain types of wrongdoing in the workplace, safeguarding them from unfair treatment or dismissal.
Law from 2nd July 1999
Working Time Regulations 1998
Sets limits on working hours, rest breaks, and holidays for workers, ensuring their health, safety, and well-being are protected.
Law from 1st October 1998
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
Covers various health, safety, and welfare provisions in the workplace, including the maintenance of safe working conditions and facilities for employees.
Law from 1st January 1993
Zero Hours Contracts (Exclusivity Terms) Regulations 2015
Bans the use of exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts, preventing employers from restricting workers' ability to work for other employers.
Law from 26th May 2015

Employee Rights in the UK

Employee rights in the UK are determined by their employment status. There are three main types of employment status: employee, worker, and self-employed.

Employees have the most rights under employment law. They are entitled to a written contract that outlines their job rights and responsibilities, as well as the right to sick, holiday, and parental leave pay. Employees are also entitled to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after two years of service.

Workers have some of the same rights as employees, but their rights are not as comprehensive. Workers are entitled to a written contract that outlines their job rights and responsibilities, as well as the right to the national minimum wage, paid holiday, and payslips. Workers are also protected against unlawful discrimination.

Self-employed individuals are not protected by all of the same employment laws as employees and workers. However, they are still protected by some laws, such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This act places a duty on employers to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all workers, including self-employed individuals.

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