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UK: Employee rights

Original and updating author: Darren Newman
Consultant editor: Jo Broadbent

Summary

  • The statutory maximum weekly working time is generally 48 hours, on average, over a reference period, although workers may opt out of this limit. There are also specific statutory limits on night work. (See Hours of work)
  • Workers are generally entitled to a rest break of at least 20 minutes if their daily working time exceeds six hours, as well as a daily rest period of at least 11 hours and a weekly rest period of at least 24 hours. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • There are no general restrictions on Sunday working, although special rules apply to "shop workers" and "betting workers". (See Sunday work)
  • All workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave, of which 1.6 weeks is nominally intended to cover bank and public holidays. (See Holiday and holiday pay)
  • Employees who give birth are entitled to take 52 weeks of maternity leave, made up of 26 weeks of "ordinary" maternity leave and 26 weeks of "additional" maternity leave, during which they are entitled to receive statutory maternity pay for 39 weeks if they meet certain eligibility criteria. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • Qualifying employees are entitled to take: shared parental leave, whereby they can share up to 50 weeks of parental leave in the year following their child's birth or adoption, in cases where the mother or adopter cuts short maternity or adoption leave; and a total of up to 18 weeks' unpaid "ordinary" parental leave in the period up until the child's 18th birthday. (See Parental leave)
  • Qualifying employees are entitled to take paternity leave of either one week or two consecutive weeks in the 56 days after the date of their child's birth or adoption. (See Paternity leave)
  • Employees must be permitted to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work in order to provide assistance when a dependant is ill, injured or assaulted, or gives birth, and in various other circumstances related to the care of dependants. (See Time off for dependants)
  • There are a number of circumstances in which an employee is entitled to paid or unpaid time off work, such as when he or she undertakes certain specified public duties, carries out jury service, or carries out duties as an employee representative or trade union representative. (See Other leave)
  • Employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous service with their employer are entitled to apply to work flexibly, by changing their hours or place of work. (See Right to request flexible working)
  • Part-time workers are entitled to be treated by their employer no less favourably than comparable full-time workers. (See Part-time workers)
  • Fixed-term employees are entitled to be treated by their employer no less favourably than comparable "permanent" employees. (See Fixed-term employees)
  • During assignments with a hirer, agency workers have specific statutory rights in respect of the terms and conditions under which they are engaged, and their access to collective facilities operated by the hirer. (See Temporary agency workers)
  • Employment law applies to all employees lawfully employed in the UK, whatever their nationality, including workers posted temporarily to work in the UK from another EU member state. (See Posted workers)
  • Employees' contracts automatically transfer when the business (or part of a business) in which they are employed is sold or transferred as a going concern to another employer. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • Employees' pay-related claims are granted protection in the event that their employer becomes insolvent. (See Insolvency of employer)
  • While there is generally no statutory requirement for an employer to follow a particular disciplinary or grievance procedure, employers are encouraged to follow an official code of practice on such procedures. (See Disciplinary and grievance procedures)
  • Workers are protected from detriment or dismissal for making a "protected disclosure" to certain parties under certain conditions (known as "whistleblowing"). (See Whistleblowing)
  • Members of the reserve armed forces are entitled to apply to return to their old job following a call-up, and are protected from dismissal on the ground that they might be called up to active military service. (See Members of the reserve armed forces)
  • The processing of employees' information in the employment context is governed by general data rules. (See Data protection and employee privacy)