Employment - Do you Know your Rights
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Do you know your rights?
Your rights are governed by your contract of employment and by the law. Your
contract does not have to be written. But, if you are an employee, once you work
for your employer continuously for 2 months, you are entitled to a written
record of the most important terms of your employment. You have different rights
if you are ‘self-employed’, rather than ‘employee’.
What rights you have will depend, to some extent, on whether you are
‘employee’ or ‘self-employed’. Generally, employees have more legal protection
than the self-employed. There is no precise, legal, definition of these terms.
All the circumstances, and especially the overall picture they paint, are
relevant. Generally speaking, you are more likely to be an employee if you have
to do your duties personally, if your employer can tell you how to do your job,
and if you cannot work for more than one employer at any given time.
Your contract may be in a letter or a formal agreement. It may even be
verbal. Normally, at least some rights will be written. If an employee, you are
entitled to receive a written statement of the most important terms of your
The law sets certain minimum rights. Your employer cannot give you less than
what the law offers. If you did not agree to certain matters, your legal rights
will apply automatically. They deal with matters such as minimum pay, minimum
holidays, maximum working hours and right to maternity and paternity leave.
You also have certain rights which are often unwritten or unspoken (‘implied’
rights). They include the right to:
(i) be paid wages;
(ii) have your employer take reasonable care of your health and safety;
(iii) in some cases, receive work;
(iv) have trust and faith in your employer; and
(v) receive reasonable notice to end the employment (if your contract does
not set a notice period).
Breach of contract
Your employer cannot normally change the terms of your contract without your
agreement. To do so, is a breach of contract. However, if you don’t agree to the
changes, your employer might decide to dismiss you. Depending on the
circumstances, the dismissal may be ‘unfair’ and / or ‘wrongful’. If the changes
have exceptionally serious effect on you, you may be able to resign and seek
compensation for ‘constructive dismissal’.
Complying with the law
If your employer breaches any of your rights, you should speak to them. If
necessary, make a written complaint and issue a formal grievance. Most employers
want to comply with the law. So, a change should take place. If nothing happens,
and you are a union member, see if it can help.
If you want to recover compensation, you could bring legal action. You should
take full legal advice first. Most complaints will be heard at a local
You must make sure that your claim arrives at the tribunal within 3 months.
This begins from the date your employer breached your rights or, if you were
dismissed or resigned, the ‘effective date of termination’. The effective date
of termination is normally your last day at work. Only in truly exceptional
circumstances will the tribunal allow you to make a later complaint.
If your claim is successful, the tribunal is likely to say that your employer
should honour your rights. You are also likely to recover compensation. Where
relevant, the tribunal will say what the terms of your employment are.
About the Author
Solicitors Bromsgrove West Midlands is a dynamic firm of legal experts
offering clients the highest level of service and support. If you would like to
find out more about the services that we provide, please visit our website
to arrange a meeting.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-04-08 09:49:28 in Legal Articles