What are my rights as an employee?
Although every company will have its own specific rules and regulations, you have many rights at work that your employer is legally obliged to provide you with. Here are some of their main responsibilities:
* Employment contract - a written statement of employment terms within two months of starting work. This includes many things such as places of work, hours and benefits.
* An itemised pay slip – detailing earnings and deductions at every pay interval from the day you start work. Other monetary terms include the right to be paid the minimum wage and not to have unauthorised deductions taken out.
* Rights for time off – As well as at least four weeks holiday entitlement per year, you're also permitted to take time off for trade union duties and activities, study and training (if you're under 1 and various parental responsibilities. There are standard stipulations regarding minimum amount of notice you must give your employer before taking this time off and your employer may have their own conditions. If you're facing redundancy you are also permitted to take time off to look for work.
* Health and safety – all employers must adhere to legislation designed to make your work environment full of as few dangers as possible, both physical and mental. So as well as obvious things like building regulations, it covers things like maximum working hours and rest breaks.
* Retirement - the right to carry on working until you are at least 65. During your employment, you must also have been given access to join a company run or independent pension scheme.
* Equality – every employee has the right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sex, race or religion, disability, sexual orientation and age, at any time during the job seeking and employment process. All employees also have the right to the same contractual rights (pro-rata) whether they're a part-time, fixed term or full-time worker.
* Dismissal – to reduce the claims for unfair dismissal, all employers are required to have set procedure for asking employees to leave, and providing reasons when they do. If these procedures are not followed, you have the right to claim compensation.
Read your contract of employment very carefully and take it to your Trade Union, Citizens' Advice Bureau or employment lawyer if there is anything you are not sure about.
Depending on your situation, not all the above terms are applicable. For example, members of the police or armed service automatically forgo their rights to maximum working hours and trainee doctors are not usually entitled to paid holidays.
Like all legal issues, your employment rights are detailed and complicated, with many conditions and exceptions. Your own circumstances may not be listed above, so speak to your HR department to find out the ins and outs of your particular situation.