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  7. Describe your employment rights and responsibilities

Describe your employment rights and responsibilities

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

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 things you need to be aware of in your day-to-day role.

Legislation

You should be aware of several key pieces of legislation as an employee. Although you will not be expected to read through all the parliamentary acts in their entirety, 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 as much as possible.

Employers must consult with staff about potential hazards, have reporting procedures in place, and have a policy for how they are dealt with. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide employees with any equipment they may need for their job roles, including any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and that they have had adequate training.

Employees also have responsibilities under the Health & Safety at Work Act. They must take care of their own health and safety as well as that of others around them, including colleagues, clients and the general public. Employees must cooperate with their employer to ensure risk is minimised in their work setting. This can include working in line with the employer’s agreed ways of working, attending 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.

Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination and ensures all employees are treated fairly. It 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

Working Time Regulations 1998

The Working Time Directive means employers cannot expect employees to work more than 48 hours per week (usually averaged out over a 17-week period). However, employees can opt-out of this regulation if they want to work more hours – an employer can ask an employee to opt-out, but this must be voluntary, and an employee can not be treated unfairly if they refuse. Employees can reverse their decision to opt-out 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 an employee and employer.

It will specify things like how many hours an employee is contracted for, the salary, 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 £9.50 per hour (due to be increased to £10.42 in April 2023). There is a sliding scale of rates for those under 25. 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 of annual leave per year – this can include bank holidays at the employer’s discretion.

Agreed Ways of Working

It is an employee’s responsibility to work in line with the agreed ways of working 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.

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

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

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