What are my rights at work?
As the world celebrates Human Rights Day, we look closer to home and ask what you are entitled to by law as an employee
On Thursday, we celebrated Human Rights Day. Every year, this date is marked out in the calendar to observe the day that the United Nations General Assembly first adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th, 1948.
This year, the United Nations is urging us all to think about human rights connected to Covid-19; to ensure that the new world we build from the ashes of this pandemic is one that prizes the rights of every human.
Human Rights Day is a global concept, and often leads us to think beyond our own lives, communities and borders, but there is also something to be said for championing human rights closer to home. As well as respecting others and treating people fairly, there is also the concept of our basic rights at work.
Do you know what your workplace rights are? Do you know the difference between a workplace right and a workplace benefit – between what your boss must provide for you by law and discretionary extras? Use this Human Rights Day to make sure you are receiving what you are entitled to at work.
What is the legal minimum wage in the UK?
This depends on age and employment status. For apprentices, the minimum hourly rate is £4.15. In standard employment, it is £4.55 for those aged under 18, £6.45 for those aged between 18 and 20, £8.20 for those aged between 21 and 24, and £8.72 for everyone aged 25 and over.
How many hours a week can my boss ask me to work?
It is illegal for your employer to make you work more than 48 hours per week. If you are under the age of 18, this drops to a maximum of 40 hours a week and no more than eight hours per day (unless there are exceptional circumstances in the workplace).
How much holiday can I take each year?
This depends on your contract of employment. Some companies will offer more generous holiday packages than others, but there is a legal minimum. That minimum, which is referred to as statutory holiday entitlement, is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks a year – this figure includes public holidays, such as bank holidays, you do not get these on top. The 5.6 weeks equivalent will correspond to how many hours a week you work. For example, if you work five days a week, you should expect 28 days of paid holiday a year. If you work one day a week, you should expect 5.6 days of paid holiday a year.
Am I entitled to sick pay?
As long as you work for your employer and are not self-employed, you will be entitled to sick pay. However, there are strings attached. To qualify for statutory sick pay, you must be earning at least £120 a week and have been off sick for four consecutive full days or more. You must also follow your company’s rules about reporting sickness to be eligible, however there are restrictions around this. For example, an employer is not allowed to demand you report sickness by a certain time in the day, make you contact them more than once a week while ill, force you to get a doctor’s note if you’ve been sick for less than eight days, or refuse to accept someone else calling in sick on your behalf. Some employers may offer full pay for sick days, but for those only offering statutory sick pay, this will amount to £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks.
What is maternity pay like? All employees and workers, including self-employed workers, are entitled to statutory maternity pay – casual workers, those on zero-hours contracts and those who work for an agency without a contract of employment are not. It is your right to take up to a year of maternity leave. The absolute minimum maternity leave you can take is two weeks, or four weeks if you work in a factory. Should you want to extend your maternity leave beyond a year, you can build up your holiday entitlement and take that at the same time, which will be in addition to the 52 weeks you are entitled to. Some employers offer a generous maternity-leave package that will top up statutory pay. If not, you will be entitled to statutory maternity pay only, which equates to 90% of your average earnings for the first six weeks and then £151.20 or 90% of your average earnings, whichever is lower, for a further 33 weeks. After this, there is no financial support. You can start your maternity leave up to 11 weeks before your baby’s due date. Should you wish to share the leave with your partner, you can do so in the first year after your child is born, splitting 50 weeks of leave (the mother has to take the first two weeks after a baby is born) and 37 weeks of pay