This area of law is extensive and can be complex in nature, concerning the obligations, regulations and requirements for mostly employers and employees. This area also concerns the rights and protections of workers, the self-employed, and freelancers. Employment law is a highly procedural area and seeks to govern the legal framework of employer-employee relationships, ensuring fairness and accountability. Employment rights are established to regulate the treatment of people providing labour, and employment tribunals are set up to hear and resolve employment related disputes, as well as ensuring the protection of rights such as sick pay, holiday, dismissal, and redundancy to name a few.
Here is what Employment Law covers:
Accountancy concerns the financial element of the employer-employee relationship. Things to consider include sick pay, PAYE, workplace pension, furlough pay, holiday entitlements, commission, bereavement, maternity and paternity pay, bonus schemes, deductions from pay for taxes, and the obligation to pay minimum wage.
Discrimination is defined as the act of being treated differently and unjustly due to one's race, age, disability or sex. Harassment is the term given to the intimidation or threatening behaviour directed at an individual which makes them feel uncomfortable or offended. This topic concerns the way employers deal with complaints of this kind, as well as how employees who feel they have suffered from harassment, discrimination or victimisation, may report this to their employer or employment tribunal.
A standard employment contract details the responsibilities and benefits of employment that have been agreed between an employer and an employee. Terms can include but are not limited to: working hours and payment, holiday entitlement, dress code and the sick day policy.
An individual's legal employment status at work is important in determining their rights, who pays their taxes, and the type of employment contract they are bound by. There are three main categories of status: employee, self-employed and worker. The general and most common status held is employee, whereby they are obliged to follow their contract of employment and to report to an employer.
An Employment Tribunal is a public body whose role is to investigate and make legally binding decisions in employer-employee disputes. These can include disputes over redundancy, unfair/ constructive dismissal, and other grievances. The Rules of Procedure for Employment Tribunals governs the process of making a claim, and details the conditions that the applicant must satisfy to be successful. The Tribunal has legal powers, and can impose cost sanctions, various orders, and compensation for the employee.
Grievance is the term used to describe a complaint raised by an employee at their place of work, whereby they are unhappy with designated tasks, terms of their employment contract or their treatment in the workplace. Employers normally have procedures in place for employees to confidently and confidentially raise grievances with the relevant senior staff member, which is noted in the employee handbook or provided by HR. This area covers how to raise a grievance as an employee, as well as how to deal with a grievance as an employer.
Health and Safety is the term used for the regulations and procedures that are put in place to minimise risk of harm or accidents. There are a number of health and safety regulations in place for employers to apply to their work environments, to mitigate risk of injury to their employers. Obligations are placed on employers to: follow health and safety procedures, supply adequate personal protective equipment and work equipment to their employees, as well as adequate safety training, take steps to mitigate risks and improve standards when they fall below a certain threshold of safety, and have a protocol in place for reporting and dealing with accidents in the workplace. There are serious legal and financial consequences should an employer be found to be in breach of health and safety regulations.
Employees are legally entitled to a set number of paid holiday days in the year. The amount of holiday differs depending on the company policies, the amount of hours the employee works, and whether it is a full-time or part-time contract. Holiday entitlement is normally detailed in the employment contract, and so an employer denying holiday pay is a breach of contract.
Human Resources is the department in a company which oversees and handles recruitment, payroll, disciplinary action taken against employees, holiday entitlement and absences, sick pay, and drafting employee policies, and workplace performance reviews. This area offers guidance on procedures and legal frameworks for the above, and also gives guidance to employees who wish to raise one of the above matters with their HR department.
National Minimum Wage is the absolute minimum amount of remuneration an employer can pay their employees. All employers are obliged to pay at least this amount, or face penalties and sanctions against their business. The amount paid varies, depending on the age of the employee and whether they are an apprentice or a worker. The National Living wage is paid only to employees who are 23years of age and older. The Standard Adult Rate applies to those 21-22, Development Rate to those 18-20, and Young Worker Rate those 16-17 years of age.
Parental Leave is the term used when employees wish to take time off work to care for their child. Employment rights, such as the right to pay and to return to work, are protected while on parental leave, however the leave itself is unpaid. Parental Leave entitlement can be carried over to a new job, as the amount of leave applies to each child, not an individual's employment. Maternity/ Paternity Leave is different, and employees are entitled to payment throughout this period. Unlike parental leave, maternity/paternity leave is used just before and after an employee becomes a parent to a newborn baby, for a set amount of time as agreed by the employer.
The recruitment process for an employer involves investigation into the background of the candidate, such as immigration and DBS checks where applicable; ensuring references are collected from previous employers; and making sure that equal opportunity is given to all candidates, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, race, religion or sexual orientation. The employer will also consider unpaid work trials, probation periods and induction days/training for new recruits.
Redundancy is the term used to describe the premature termination of employment by an employer. The redundancy process takes place when a company needs to reduce the size of its workforce, for financial or production reasons. If the individual satisfies certain conditions, such as having worked with the company for more than two years and being classed as an employee, then they are eligible for statutory redundancy pay, whereby they are entitled to receive a certain amount of money for each year of service at the company. The employer is required to pay this, although if for financial reasons they cannot, it will be funded by the State.
TUPE is the regulation which governs the process of a business being transferred into new ownership. There is a transfer of undertakings, and an obligation is set on the new employer to protect the employment of the current employees of the business. Employers have a duty to inform the employees of their intention to transfer ownership, and the terms of the employment contracts are carried over to the new employer, which normally cannot be changed, with the exception of an ‘economic, technical or organisational reason’.
A Trade Union is an organised association made up of worker "members", who enforce employees rights. Employees are entitled to join a trade union if they wish, and become a member. Representatives of the Union negotiate with employers on behalf of a body of workers, to achieve a desired goal, such as a fairer employment contracts, increased pay, or an improvement to the standard of working conditions.
Unfair dismissal is the term used should an individual believe that they have been wrongfully fired or subsequently removed from employment by their employer. Constructive dismissal is when an employee has to leave their job due to the creation of a unworkable work environment by the employer, through conduct. The conduct of the employer should amount to a breach of contract which could be a serious incident or a series of incidents that are serious when taken together.
Whistleblowing is the term used to describe the actions of a worker reporting a wrongdoing in the workplace, in the public interest. Whistleblowers are protected by law, and reveal serious types of wrongdoing, such as if someone's health or safety is in danger, criminal offences, or miscarriages of justice.
Working Hours is the term used to define the amount of time employees must spend carrying out tasks of employment. This involves the entitlement# to take a rest break during their working day, the duration of which may differ depending on the age of the employee. Working hours also concerns overtime work and the issue of whether these hours will be paid. Working Hours is one of the main clauses in an Employment contract.
A workplace pension scheme is automatically set up by an employer, when employment commences. A portion of the employee's salary is put into their pension scheme, and the employer and government also contribute to the scheme, so that on retirement, the employee will have accumulated an amount of money to live off. Tax relief is applied to workplace pensions if certain criteria is satisfied, and there is an opt-out system in place, so the employee must inform the employer if they do not wish to be enrolled in the scheme.