Employee Rights and Responsibilities in the Workplace with an image of many fists held in the air in the background

1.2a Describe Your Employment Rights and Responsibilities

As an employee, you have certain rights in your day-to-day employment. Conversely, you also have certain responsibilities towards your employer. Rights and responsibilities will vary between roles, contacts and seniority, however many will be shared between all employees. Here is a list of some of the things that you need to be aware of in your day-to-day role.

Legislation

There are a number of key pieces of legislation that you should be aware of as an employee. Although you will not be expected to read through the entire parliamentary acts, you should have a basic understanding of the aspects that apply to you.

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

This act makes employers responsible for the health, safety and welfare of their employees as well as others on work premises and the general public as a whole. All employees have the right to expect to work in a safe environment, as far as is practicably possible. This doesn’t mean that it will be risk-free – if that were the case, firefighters for example would not be able to perform their duty – but all potential hazards should be risk assessed and the risks minimised.

Employers must consult with staff about potential hazards and also have reporting procedures in place as well as a policy for how they are dealt with. It is the employers responsibility to provide employees with any equipment they may need for their job roles including any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and have undergone adequate training in how to use said equipment.

Employees also have responsibilities under the Health & Safety Act. They must take care of their own health and safety as well as that of others around them including colleagues, partners and the general public. Employees must co-operate with their employer to ensure risk is minimised in their work. This can include attending essential training, reporting safety concerns and even stopping work if they feel the risk is too high to continue.

Data Protection Act 2018 (includes General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR)

This act protects personal and identifiable information and restricts how it can be used, stored and shared. As an employee, you can expect your employer to protect your personal information but you also have the responsibility to keep the personal information of others secure.

Working Time Regulations 1998

The Working Time Directive means that employers cannot expect employees to work more than 48 hours per week (usually averaged out over a 17-week period). However, employees do have the option to opt out of this regulation if they want to work more hours. They can opt back in again at any time by giving their employer 7-days notice.

Contract of Employment

A contract is a document that sets out the details of the agreement between employee and employer.

It will specify things like how many hours an employee is contracted for, the salary, the number of days annual leave entitlement and other perks and benefits offered. As mentioned earlier in the Working Time Regulations , weekly hours should not be more than 48 hours per week unless the employee has opted out.

National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage

At the time of writing the minimum wage in the UK for 25s and over is £7.83, rising to £8.21 in April 2019. There is a sliding scale of rates for under 25s. It is against the law for an employer to pay less than the National Living Wage/Minimum Wage.

Annual Leave

Annual leave is the number of days paid holiday an employee can take each year. Most full-time employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave per year – this can include bank holidays at the employer’s discretion.

Agreed Ways of Working

It is an employees responsibility to work in the safe and agreed ways that the employer sets out in their policies and procedures. This ensures that employees work lawfully and provide the levels of care that the employer expects. Failure to comply could lead to harm being caused to individuals and/or disciplinary action.

As well as following company policies and procedures, agreed ways of working can also include following individual client’s care plans accurately, their rights are upheld and they are safeguarded from abuse.

In addition errors should be reported rather than covered up to reduce their impact and act as a learning opportunity to minimise the risk of it happening again. Everyone makes mistakes and employers understand this and should promote trust and transparency within their workplace culture.

Equality & Discrimination

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination and ensures all employees are treated fairly. It also highlights nine protected characteristics that it is unlawful to discriminate against:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation