Your basic employee rights
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Regardless of who employs you or in what capacity, as an employee, you are entitled to statutory rights that are enshrined in UK law.
The vast majority of employers are fully aware of and implement their legal responsibilities to their employees, but there are exceptions, such as employers – perhaps those who don't know better – who need to be reminded.
By asserting your rights as an employee, you will not just be helping yourself get what you are legally entitled to, you will be helping your co-workers, future employees – and your employer as well.
Employers who fail to pay the national minimum wage alone face fines of up to £20,000, as well as costly back payments.
The national minimum wage
The national minimum wage is reviewed every October and is on a sliding scale according to age. As of October 2016, the minimum wage any employer is allowed to pay for each hour of work is:
- £7.20 for employees 25 and over
- £6.95 for employees between 21 to 24
- £5.55 for employees between 18 to 20
- £4.00 for employees under 18
- £3.40 for apprentices
Apprentices who have completed their first year and are aged 19 or over are entitled to the regular minimum wage.
Almost every working person is entitled to paid leave, or “holiday pay”. The typical minimum an employer gives is usually 5.6 weeks per year – this is referred to as statutory annual leave.
For most people working a regular five-day week, statutory annual leave is calculated at 28 days’ paid leave every year.
Agency workers should have the same entitlement as permanent employees. Part-time workers are entitled to annual leave in the same way, but their working days over 5.6 weeks will be lower and calculated accordingly.
Statutory paid holiday is capped at 28 days. People who work irregular hours can calculate their annual leave entitlement by visiting the Government website (www.gov.uk/calculate-your-holiday-entitlement).
Workers are also entitled to build-up their holiday entitlement while off work sick, on maternity or paternity leave and adoption leave.
What to do if you encounter problems
If you feel your employer is failing to provide your statutory rights, the first thing to do is to talk to your employer and put your concerns in writing. If you still feel the issue is unresolved, speak to a trade union (British Veterinary Union in Unite) representative or the Citizens Advice Bureau.