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From Day 1 of being employed, you are entitled by law to the following:

  • an itemised pay statement
  • 18 weeks' maternity leave
  • time off for antenatal care (visits to the doctor and hospital when pregnant)
  • equal pay
  • no discrimination on the basis of sex or race or disability
  • time off for public duties
  • time off for trade union duties
  • no victimisation for trade union activities or for complaining about discrimination
  • the right to return to work after maternity leave
  • entitled to paid holidays from first day's employment instead of having to wait 13 weeks

After one month's service, you are entitled by law to the following:

  • one week's notice of dismissal
  • payment if you are suspended on medical grounds
  • "guaranteed payment" if you are laid off

After two months' service, you are entitled by law to the following:

  • a written statement of your terms of employment. This written statement is not in itself a contract of employment but is evidence of what is in a contract of employment

After one year's service, you are entitled by law to the following:

  • the right to return to work after maternity leave
  • redundancy pay
  • protection against unfair dismissal
  • a written statement from your employer giving reasons for dismissal. This must be provided within 14 days of your request
  • additional maternity leave after 18 weeks

After two years' service, you are entitled by law to the following:

  • redundancy pay

What is unfair dismissal?

Your employer must be able to show that there was a good reason for your dismissal and that he/she acted reasonably. A dismissal is usually regarded as fair if it is to do with:

  • capability or qualifications for the job
  • redundancy
  • misconduct
  • legal requirements for the job
  • some other substantial reason

Some dismissals are automatically unfair. You do not need the one year's service with your employer to claim if you were dismissed because of:

  • pregnancy
  • equal pay
  • health and safety
  • sex or race or disability discrimination*
  • union membership or activities
  • asserting a statutory right
  • parental leave
    *Discrimination is not automatically unfair. However, you can bring a claim for unlawful discrimination at any time and that can include dismissal.


The law states that your employer must consult about proposed redundancies with either the recognised union or the representatives elected by the employees at the workplace. This only applies if 20 or more employees are to be made redundant.

The law sets out the minimum redundancy payment. This depends on your age, your pay and your length of service:

  • aged 18-21: half a week's pay for each year of service
  • aged 22-40: one week's pay for each year of service
  • aged 41-65: one and a half week's pay for each year of service.

 Statutory sick pay

You can get sick pay from your employer if:

  • you are under pension age
  • you have been off work for at least four days in a row (you do not get sick pay for the first three days of sickness)
  • your weekly gross earnings are £72 or more

Part-time workers

If you work part-time you now have the same rights as full-time employees. Also, you should receive the same rights (pro-rata) as full-timers for all benefits, for example, holidays. Since most part-time workers are women, it may be that your employer is guilty of indirect sex discrimination if you are not receiving the same benefits as full-timers.

These are minimum statutory rights. Some workers have additional rights which have been negotiated locally. This is not a legal document. Professional advice should always be sought. Reproduced by kind permission of the TUC, checked with Hull Law Centre Oct 2000