About employee rights in the United Kingdom
All employees in the UK are protected by government laws called statutory employment rights. These laws have been put in place to ensure everyone is treated fairly in the workplace.
Employees may also be given additional rights as part of their contract or agreement with an employer. These are called contractual employment rights.
How to determine an employee’s rights
An individual’s employment rights depend on their ’employment status’. Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, there are three primary types of employment status: employee, worker, or self-employed.
Employment status definitions
Employee: An employee is someone who works under an employment contract, which is an agreement that states the following:
- Employment conditions
Note that employees are considered to have an employment contract as soon as someone accepts a job offer —this doesn’t need to be written down.
To find out more about employment contracts, take a look at the government’s website.
Worker: This category includes employees and also individuals with contracts other than ‘employment contracts’. These are often called ‘contracts of services’, which agree to a continuous relationship and provision of services until one of the parties ends it. Examples include casual workers and agency workers.
Self-employed: Employment law doesn’t cover individuals who work for themselves. However, all UK citizens are protected against discrimination of protected characteristics.
Self-employed individuals may also be protected by the rights and responsibilities set out by the terms within the contracts for the services they are providing.
Employee rights in the UK
The right to be treated equally
The right to fair pay
Rights when you lose your job
The right to time off work
The right to a trade union
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