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Statutory Rights

As an employer, there are things that you can expect from your employees, but also your employees are expecting things from you. This post should help you to understand what this two way relationship is all about.

Statutory Rights

Every worker has statutory rights, but what are they?

First let's look at what defines a worker. According to, a worker is defined as a person who has a contract, or other arrangement, to carry out work or perform a service for a reward, this reward being money. This worker has to turn up to work even if they don't want to (who does right?), the organisation they are working for has to provide work for them so long as they are working there, and this person is not carrying out work as a part of their own limited company (for example, the person cannot be both the client/customer and the 'employer'). A person is only entitled to statutory rights so long as they meet this criteria.

So now you know what a worker actually is, let's see what they're entitled to; this only applies to workers that meet the above criteria, there are exemptions which we'll look at later.

Workers have the right to:

  • a written contract within 2 months of their start date
  • an itemised payslip starting from their first day
  • be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for their age group, now the National Living Wage for workers over the age of 25
  • not have illegal deductions made from their pay. Employers are allowed in some circumstances to take money from worker's pay so long as it means the worker isn't being paid below minimum wage. Read more on this at
  • paid holidays. Full-time employees being entitled to at least 28 days per year (there's a calculator for this here)
  • time off for trade union activities, this does not have to be paid time off. Also employees have the right to a trade union representative present at any disciplinary hearing
  • paid time off to look for work if they are being made redundant (only if they have been with the company for 2 or more years)
  • time off for study or further training for 16-17 year olds
  • paid time off for ante-natal care
  • paid maternity and paternity leave
  • ask for flexible working
  • adoption leave
  • unpaid parental leave for both parents (so long as they have been with the company for at least 1 year) and the right to reasonable time off to look after children in the case of an emergency (from the commencement of the employment)
  • all aspects covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1947
  • not be discriminated against
  • carry on working until they are at least 65
  • a notice of dismissal (providing they have been with the company for at least a month) including a reason for dismissal (providing they have been with the company at least 2 years, women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are entitled to a written reason even if they have worked less than this)
  • claim compensation for unfair dismissal. In most cases they have to be with the company for over 2 years
  • redundancy pay. Again in most cases this is if they have been with the company over 2 years
  • not suffer any detriment or dismissal for whistleblowing on a matter of public concern (applies from commencement of employment)
  • the same contractual rights as a full-time worker, if they are part-time or fixed-term employees

That's a lot of rights, but in most cases employers will already be providing these without knowing they have to. Now we've covered what the rights are, let's look at who's not covered by them.

  • Anyone who is not an employee, for example, an agency worker or freelancer. However these still have the rights to the National Minimum Wage, all aspects of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the right not to be discriminated against and the right to paid holidays.
  • Employees who normally work outside of the UK.
  • Merchant seamen or fishermen.
  • Some workers in the transport industry are not entitled to paid holidays or limits on their working hours.

As you can see there are a lot of exemptions, but as mentioned before, it's basically common sense and you'll be covering many of these points without even knowing you are. There's loads more to know and the specifics about all the points mentioned above can be found here. It's well worth a read and even if you don't remember all of it, in most cases you'll only need the basics and common sense.

All details are correct at the time of writing.

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