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:

  1. Employment conditions
  2. Rights
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Duties

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

The information on this page has been compiled on the basis of general information current at the time of publication. 
Please note that the contents of webpage and any information provided by WORK180 do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to be a substitute for legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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