Know your rights

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
  • 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

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
  • 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

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

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
  • 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


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.

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