The subject of employee rights is a very big one and it is simply impossible to cover all the aspects on one page, so this will inevitably be a summary.
The sources of employee rights are myriad, ranging from statutes of which there are many such as the Employment Rights Act 2006 and the Equality Act 2010 through to the contract of employment, but also common law rights and health and safety law, not to mention European law and the burgeoning area of human rights law. In fact many claims brought in the employment tribunal or the county courts will include a number of overlapping claims.
You will find numerous pages on the internet which will list the various rights associated with employment law but it’s always worth remembering, in our view, that employment law is a highly political area – put simply, no other area of law is so politically sensitive except perhaps criminal law in terms of the widespread impact on society, so there is a balancing act between employers and employees. The overview as to how the politics of employment law plays out is quite simple really :-
- the substantive tests as to what legal liability, such as whether a dismissal is fair or unfair largely favour the employer – the rules in essence do not allow an employment tribunal to subjectively place itself in the employer’s position
- most employment laws look also closely at procedures to see whether an action or inaction by an employer were fair or based on ulterior motives – the procedural tests largely favour the employee
Keeping the above aspects in mind , whilst not in any way obviating the need and importance of employers and employees knowing the law and taking good employment law advice, will assist quite a lot in understanding how employment law works. A larger number of small employers are held liable for forgetting, not knowing or simply ignoring good and fair procedure in employment law than those who in fact get it wrong when deciding what is or is not gross misconduct.
Employee rights commonly of course also involve issues of claims for personal injury, which can range from very nasty accidents at work through to employment law related issues such as failure to make reasonable adjustments for disabilities, failing to provide suitable work environment for issues such as RSI, and the list can go on for a long time.
So now to a short and not comprehensive list of some of the main employee rights, just for ease of reference :-
- Unfair dismissal claims
- Wrongful dismissal
- Constructive dismissal
- Breaches of the contract of employment
- discrimination – race, sex, disability, age, religion, sex orientation
- right to a safe working environment
- Paternity and maternity rights
We will produce separate posts on individual topics detailed above.