We’re all familiar with the concept of human rights – the basic principles that endeavour to treat us all with a sense of fairness, dignity, equality and respect – but how exactly do they extend into the working world?
The important thing to know as an employee is that those same concepts apply in the workplace. In the public sector, for example, it’s illegal for your employer to violate your human rights. In the private sector, human rights law is woven into general employment law and applies to all employers, who in turn have HR departments dedicated to ensuring they don’t slip up.
Of course, as employees, it’s not necessarily our job to know all the ins and outs of our working rights, but it is worthwhile knowing the fundamentals to ensure you’re being treated properly at work – especially in a world where plenty has changed in the last few years.
Here are three essential employee rights you should know about.
Discrimination is the unfair treatment of any employee in the workplace based on a number of characteristics protected by the Equality Act of 2010. Those characteristics are:
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy or maternity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
Discrimination can be direct – when unfair treatment is directly applied to a person based on a certain protected characteristic – or indirect – when rules are installed that apply to a group of employees that, while reasonable in theory, pertain to the unfair treatment of someone based on a protected characteristic.
If you feel you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace, you can seek legal advice on whether to take action against your employer.
Health and safety
As per the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, your employer has a duty of care to each of its employees to provide a safe and healthy working environment. That includes simple hygiene elements such as providing suitable toilet and washing facilities, providing clean drinking water, maintaining work equipment and regulating any dangerous work areas.
Particularly if you work in a higher risk role where more dangers are present on a regular basis – for example, working in a warehouse – it’s essential your employer practices good and legal health and safety protocols.
Matters surrounding pay
You have a number of key employee rights regarding pay that you should be aware of. These include:
- You must receive a payslip – this should be given on the day you get paid, or before, and offer a detailed breakdown of the pay you’re getting for the period of time you’ve worked as well as tax and National Insurance deductions.
- If you’ve completed work for your employer, earn an average of at least £120 a week before tax and have been ill for at least four days in a row, you are eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) of £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks.
- Statutory maternity pay (SMP) and paternity pay should both be paid if you qualify for certain criteria.
- You have a right to statutory redundancy pay if you’ve been working for your employer for more than two years.
The above are just some of the basic rights it’s worth knowing about as an employee. If you’d like to know more about your employee rights, take a look at this guide.