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Employment - Do You Know Your Rights?

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’.

Legal protection

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.

Minimum rights

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 employment.

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 employment tribunal.

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.

If you would like to find out more about the services that we provide, please visit our website http://www.mfgsolicitors.com

mfg Solicitors Kidderminster provide legal advice on all areas relating to Employment Law.

Source: www.isnare.com