Employment Legislation – A Detailed Overview
“Take time to appreciate employees and they will reciprocate in a thousand ways.” – Bob Nelson
This guide to Employment Legislation provides a brief overview of some of the most commonly encountered aspects of legislation applicable to employment. It is not designed to be a comprehensive guide and further advice should be sought when dealing with specific situations.
Terms and Conditions of Employment
Employers must provide a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within 2 months of commencement of employment. The statement should include the following:
- Names of the employer and the employee
- Job title
- The date when the employment (and the period of continuous employment) began
- The term of employment if not permanent
- The place of work
- The rate of pay and the intervals at which it is to be paid
- The hours of work
- Holiday entitlement
- Entitlement to sick leave and sick pay
- Pension arrangements
- Notice period at termination
- Details of the existence of any relevant collective agreements
Employers may choose to implement a more extensive contract of employment to provide greater protection for the business. This might include provisions such as:
- Short-time working and lay-offs
- Intellectual property
- Exclusivity of service
- Restrictive covenants
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The minimum statutory notice period for an employer to give an employee is as follows:
- Up to one month’s service – no notice required.
- Between one month and 2 years’ service – 1 week
- Over 2 years’ service – 1 week per completed year of service to a maximum of 12 weeks.
If the Contract of Employment does not set out notice periods, the employee must give “reasonable notice”, minimum one week.
Working Time and Breaks
Employees over 18 are entitled to an unpaid break of 20 minutes when they work more than 6 hours. Those under 18 are entitled to an unpaid break of 30 minutes when they work for 4.5 hours or more.
Workers must not work more than an average of 48 hours a week unless they sign an “opt out”. If they do opt out, they must have the freedom to change their mind with reasonable notice.
There are other rules governing days off, night work etc and further advice should be sought if these apply to your business.
National Living/Minimum Wage
All employees are entitled to either the National Living Wage (NLW) or the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The rates from 1st April 2017 are as follows:
Employees are also entitled to receive an itemised payslip.
The minimum statutory holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday (equivalent to 28 days for a full time employee). This entitlement includes all public holidays. There is no automatic right to time off on a public holiday. Part time workers should be given a pro-rata allowance.
Statutory Sick Pay
Employees who are off sick for 4 or more days and who meet the minimum earnings threshold will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks. Pay commences from the 4th day of sickness.
Discipline and Dismissal
A fair process must be followed when taking disciplinary action or dismissing an employee. This usually means following the ACAS code of conduct, in summary:
- Carrying out a thorough investigation in cases of misconduct
- Inviting the employee in writing to a disciplinary hearing, giving reasonable notice (at least 24 hours).
- Providing copies of statements and evidence that will be referred to at the hearing.
- Allowing the employee to be accompanied by a colleague or a trade union representative.
- Making a decision based on the evidence, following the hearing.
- Giving the employee the decision in writing.
- Giving the employee the opportunity to appeal.
This process should be followed even in cases of suspected gross misconduct. An employee may be suspended from work pending an investigation but this is not disciplinary action and the employee must be paid during this period.
Maternity Leave and Pay
All female employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), employees must have been employed for at least 26 weeks’ at the 15th week before the expected date of childbirth. SMP is payable for up to 9 months of maternity leave. Expectant mothers are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care.
Paternity Leave and Pay
Fathers who have been employed for at least 26 weeks’ at the 15th week before the expected date of childbirth (or date of matching for adoption) are entitled to Paternity Leave and Pay (SPP). One or two weeks’ Paternity Leave may be taken and Statutory Paternity Pay will be paid. If a mother or main adopter ends their maternity or adoption leave and pay (SMP/SAP) early, they can opt in to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) with their eligible partner. Fathers and partners are entitled to unpaid time off work to accompany an expectant mother to up to 2 antenatal appointments.
Shared Parental Leave and Pay
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) enables eligible mothers and adopters to commit to ending their maternity or adoption leave and pay early to share the untaken leave as SPL and pay as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) with their partner, or return to work early from maternity or adoption leave to opt in to shared parental leave and pay. To be able to take SPL both parents must meet various eligibility and evidence requirements as well as complying with the relevant curtailment and notice requirements. Eligible parents can take SPL in up to 3 separate blocks of leave and have the opportunity to split a block into several shorter periods of work and leave if their employer accepts their
Adoption Leave and Pay
All employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave and 39 weeks’ Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP). Only one member of a couple may claim adoption leave and pay, the other member may be able to take paternity leave or shared parental leave. To qualify for SAP employees must have been employed for at least 26 weeks’ by the week they are matched with a child. The main adopter is entitled to paid time off to attend up to 5 adoption appointments and the secondary adopter is entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 adoption appointments.
Parents of children under the age of 18 are entitled to up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave per child. A maximum of 4 weeks’ parental leave may be taken per year and leave can only be taken in week-long blocks unless in the case of disabled children.
All employees are entitled to make a flexible working request. The employee must have been employed for at least 26 weeks’ when the request is made. Only one request may be made in a 12 month period. The employer is required to consider the request and may only reject it on the following grounds:
- The burden of additional costs
- Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
- Inability to recruit additional staff
- Detrimental impact on quality
- Detrimental impact on performance
- Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
- Planned structural changes
Time of for Dependants
Employees are entitled to unpaid time off to deal with an emergency relating to family or dependents. There is no limit to time off but it is expected to be only the time required to deal with the emergency, e.g. to go to the doctors or to make care arrangements. If a longer period of time is required, e.g. to care for a sick child, parental leave or holiday may be appropriate.
There is a requirement under the Equality Act 2010 for employers to prevent discrimination in the workplace. In particular, it is unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or beliefs, age or gender reassignment. Employers may be held responsible for the actions of their employees, so it is important that any accusation of bullying, harassment or discrimination is taken seriously.
Employers must also take action to prevent and deal with harassment of their staff by third parties.
Employers have the right to keep and process information in respect of their employees as far as is necessary to manage the business. This information must be kept secure and its disclosure should be limited to those who need it to deal with employment matters. This is particularly important in respect of sensitive personal information, such as medical details, sexual matters, religious beliefs or political opinions.
Employees have a right to see and request copies of any information an employer holds about them. A formal request should be made in writing. The employer must provide this information within 40 days and may charge an administration fee of up to £10 for providing the information.
Redundancy occurs when the requirement for a particular role or type of work reduces or is no longer to be carried out at (or near) the current business location. It is the role that is redundant, not the person. If 20 or more employees are to be made redundant, collective consultation must be carried out, otherwise individuals should be consulted.
If the role to be made redundant is one of several similar roles, the people carrying out these roles will be considered a “pool” and a selection process must be carried out. Selection criteria might include qualifications, skills, performance, attendance, flexibility or other relevant and objective factors. Care should be taken to ensure that selection criteria are not discriminatory – for example, length of service may discriminate against younger employees.
Employees who have been employed for 2 years or more are entitled to a statutory redundancy payment as follows:
- 1.5 weeks’ pay for each year of employment after their 41st birthday
- A week’s pay for each year of employment after their 22nd birthday
- Half a week’s pay for each year of employment up to their 22nd birthday
Length of service is capped at 20 years and weekly pay from 6th April 2017 is capped at £489. The maximum amount of statutory redundancy pay from 6th April 2017 is £14,670.
Employees being made redundant have the right to paid time off to look for work.
Disclaimer: While we make every effort to present this information accurately, this is just a summary overview. That means lots of details, explanations, and qualifiers are left out. It is intended only to provide general guidance, and you should not rely on it as a complete or binding explanation of the provided topics. Seek expert opinion from an HR expert if you need help with any aspect of employment legislation!