Employee's rights in the UK

Employee’s rights in the United Kingdom

When you work in the UK, it’s helpful to understand your rights as an employee. This includes knowing what the national minimum wage means and which taxes you’ll need to pay. Continue reading to discover more, including the difference between workers’ and employees’ rights in the UK.

Workers versus employees

The words “worker” and “employee” are used interchangeably in everyday life. Under UK law, however, there’s a fine line between the two terms. Knowing the difference will help you understand your rights when you start working in Great Britain.

Workers are individuals that perform casual or temporary roles under an employment contract or other type of contract but are not self-employed. 

If you’re a casual or temporary worker, it’s important to know your employment rights. 

Worker’s rights in the UK include the right to:

  • National minimum wage.
  • The statutory minimum length of rest breaks.
  • Maximum hour working week (48 hours).
  • Pay without unlawful deductions from wages.
  • Perform their duties without discrimination.
  • The statutory minimum level of paid holiday or annual leave.
  • Work part-time without unfavourable treatment.
Employees are those who work under an employment contract. The employer provides an employee with a set of duties which the employee agrees to perform in return for an agreed wage. 

Employees receive all the workers’ rights listed above, plus the right to:

  • Statutory sick pay
  • Statutory maternity or paternity leave and pay
  • Minimum notice periods if their employment will be ending
  • Protection against unfair dismissal
  • Time off for emergencies
  • Statutory redundancy pay
  • Request flexible working

What is the national minimum wage?

What is the national minimum wage?

The national minimum wage is the minimum hourly pay that all workers are entitled to earn. Your level of “minimum wage” depends on your age. The table below shows the current minimum wage for all adults of working age:

Who?CurrentFrom April 2022
16-17 year olds£4.62£4.81
18-20 year olds£6.56£6.83
21-22 year olds £8.36£9.18
All other adults£8.91£9.50

Depending on your age and employment status, your hourly wage must meet or exceed the national minimum wage.

What is the statutory minimum length of rest breaks?

Both workers and employees have the right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during their working day. This break is based on working more than six hours per day and doesn’t include a paid or unpaid lunch break. 

What is the statutory minimum level of paid holiday?

Also known as annual leave, the statutory minimum level of paid holiday is paid time off work granted by employers to employees and workers. In the UK, the minimum is 5.6 weeks, which can include bank and public holidays.

What is statutory sick pay?

Employees can get £96.35 per week statutory sick pay if they’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer if you’re ill for longer than 3 consecutive workdays but less than 28 weeks.

What is statutory maternity leave and pay?

What is statutory maternity leave and pay?

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Of the 52 weeks, employees are normally entitled to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. 

For the first six weeks, employees are paid 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax. For the remaining 33 weeks, employees are paid £151.97 per week or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower). 

Get ready for life in Great Britain by reading Azimo’s guide to moving to the UK. Discover tips including how to find accommodation and understanding the healthcare system. 

What is statutory paternity leave and pay?

Employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ leave. Unlike maternity leave, paternity leave can only start after the baby is born. These start dates include: 

  • the actual date of birth.
  • an agreed number of days after the birth.
  • an agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth.

Statutory Paternity Pay for eligible employees is either £151.97 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Did you know? The length of paternity leave is the same even if you have twins, triplets, quadruplets, or more.

Minimum notice periods if your employment will be ending

If you’re dismissed from your job, say for staff cuts, for example, you can sometimes continue working for a time and keep getting paid. It’s called your notice period and is usually at least a week long. 

Statutory redundancy pay

You’ll be entitled to statutory redundancy pay if you’ve been working for your current employer for more than two years. You’ll receive:

  • half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22.
  • one week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41.
  • one and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.

Right to request flexible working

All employees that have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working. This includes requesting part-time hours or compressed hours, i.e. working full-time hours but over fewer days.

UK workers rights after Brexit

Employment rights remain the same since the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU), except some changes to:

  • employer insolvency for UK employees working in the EU.
  • membership of European Works Councils.
  • employing EU citizens.

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