Legislation for jobseekers

Published on: 19 Jun 2014


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Starting a new job is always difficult. No matter how prepared you might think you are, there are always things specific to your new role or organisation that will catch you out on your first day.

But one thing you can be sure of is the general legislation which regulates employers and employees in the United Kingdom.

Of course, for some roles there will be specific legislation related to your day-to-day activities or the organisation that you work for, but there are a few foundational pieces of work-related legislation that will affect you whatever your new role.

To help you get a grip on the two most important of these, we've outlined them for you below.

Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) is the primary piece of legislation related to occupational health and safety in the United Kingdom. It covers duties related to the employer and the employee, as well as specific regulations for a variety of working situations and scenarios.

Many people think health and safety is pointless, and just comes down to common sense – and while this may be somewhat true, it still important to know your rights and duties under the HSWA.

Some of the regulations made under the act may not apply to you, your new role, or the organisation you work for, but the basics here are important.

For more detailed information on the HSWA, and other occupational health and safety topics you can visit the UK Health and Safety Executive website.

Equality Act 2010

The basis for anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom, the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for any employer or employee to discriminate against another individual on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

This act applies across all workplaces, so it is a good idea to understand the basics of it before you start your new job.

Of course, there are hundreds of other acts, regulations and codes of practice applicable to employment, and when you are more sure about the sector in which you will be working, it might be a good idea to do some more research of the specific legislation applicable to that area.