Anyone who runs a business and employs people has to understand employment law. If you don’t, you might make a mistake that could cost the company big in future. Employees who think that their rights have been ignored will seek legal advice and get compensation from the company. The only way to avoid this eventuality is to know the rules and then make sure you play by them at all times.
There are many different strands of employment rights that you really need to be aware of. Read on to find out what you need to know about each of them.
Before you actually employ someone, you have to make sure that the actual employment process is legitimate and fair. This is so that the risk of discrimination is reduced. It is against the law to discriminate against an employee or job applicant based on many different criteria. For example, you can’t reject a candidate or discriminate an employee based on their race, religion or age. And that’s just to mention a few of the ways in which discrimination can occur.
The sex of the employee is the main area where discrimination occurs though. Until recently, it was not uncommon for women to be asked if they were planning on having children at a job interview. This was so that they could avoid hiring and paying them during their maternity leave. This is now against the law, and it’s illegal to not hire someone based on their sex or marital status too.
Employees’ Statutory Rights
Statutory rights are the rights that all your employees are entitled to, regardless of how long they’ve worked for the company. These have to be contained in any legal contract of employment. If these rights are not granted, then the company is breaking the law. If the rights are not included in the contract, the contract can be challenged by the employee and their challenge will succeed. So, what are these rights?
First of all, you have to follow all the relevant minimum wage laws. This is an hourly rate that you have to pay to meet the law. There are different pay rates for people of different ages. For people over the age of 25, have to be paid £7.20 an hour. And the rate is less for people aged 18-24, and less still for people 16-18. You have to make sure that you pay them what they are entitled to.
Next, you have to allow employees the right level of paid holidays. Anyone who is a full-time employee has the right to 28 days paid holiday each year from when they start working for the company. Part-time employees have this holiday time pro-rated. It’s up to you whether or not you decide to include bank holidays as part of those 28 days or whether you add them on the top.
There is a statutory sick rate of pay that is less than the minimum wage that employers have to pay when someone is unable to work through sickness. You have to pay this for up to 28 weeks in a three-year period. You should also be aware of the variations depending on how long the employee has been working for the company. You will also have to make sure that everyone is paid equally regardless of their sex or ethnicity.
There are specific statutory rights that apply to people with families. All women have a right to maternity leave after giving birth or adopting a child. This leave can last for 52 weeks, and they have to have the right to return to their previous job after the maternity leave is over. For 39 of those weeks, they have to be paid the statutory maternity pay.
Paternal leave is also available to fathers for two weeks, but most fathers don’t even take advantage of this. You should also be aware of other rights, such as compassion and bereavement leave. There is no law saying that employees are entitled to this, but they can still make a legal case for it.
Equal opportunities within the business have to be offered. Giving people preferential treatment because of something that they have no control over is unfair. You should avoid treating employees differently anyway because it causes rifts in the workplace. Failing to give people equal opportunities could be in breach of the equality laws that are in place to protect employees. So, don’t make the mistake of forgetting about this as many employers do.
Health & Safety
Employees have the right to work in a place that is completely safe and secure for them. If they are injured doing their job, you could be held responsible for that. And this will lead to you having to pay out large sums of money in compensation. Obviously, some jobs are more dangerous than others, so this has to be taken into account.
If the job requires safety equipment, then it’s the job of the employer to provide this. Not doing so is against the rights of the employee, so don’t make this mistake. You can’t tell them to get their own equipment or even ask them to pay for it because it’s simply not their responsibility.
For some short-term employees, it’s not necessary to have a written contract in place. Sometimes, it’s enough for a verbal contract to be in place between the employer and employee. Although, if the employee does request a written contract from the employer, this request can’t be rejected. On the other hand, it’s necessary for a full-term, long-term employee to have a contract. This simply helps everyone to know where they stand.
As an employer, you are obliged to make sure that the employment contract contains certain things. For example, you need to outline the hours that they will work, the rate they will be paid and their job description. As long as you include all the necessary information and meet all the statutory laws, you shouldn’t have any problems.