Employer Responsibilities Guide

Employer responsibilities

In the UK, employers have a responsibility to staff in relation to their health and safety, equal opportunities and equal pay. Though many responsibilities are an obligation, some are optional. Below is a guide to Employer Responsibilities here in the UK, and some information on what to do if you believe that you are being treated unfairly in the workplace. If you need to contact the Employers Helpline, you can call 0843 178 4229.

Employment Rights for Workers

To be classed as a worker, you need a contract. This doesn’t have to be written, and the employer must have work for you to do when you’re under a contract from them. As a worker, you’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage and the statutory minimum level of paid work. You are also protected against workplace discrimination and whistleblowing. Depending on whether your employer offers any of the following, you could also be entitled to:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Shared Parental Pay
  • Statutory Adoption Day
  • Statutory Maternity Pay

You will be able to see in your contract if you’re entitled to these payments. When it comes to minimum notice, workers are not entitled to a notice period if they are being dismissed by their employer. You will also not be able to protest against unfair dismissal or Statutory Redundancy Pay.

If you’re unsure if you are classed as a worker or not,  take a look at your contract if you have a written one. Terms such as “freelance”, “casual work” and “zero hours” all tend to mean worker. You are also classed as a worker if you occasionally work for a specific business, and are not full time.

Employee Rights

By definition, an employee is someone who works under a contract. Unlike workers, employees have more rights, including:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Flexible Working
  • Time Off – Emergencies
  • Redundancy Pay
  • Protection against Unfair Dismissal

If you are self-employed, you are not entitled to anything from an employer.

Health and Safety Responsibilities of Employers

In the UK, all employees owe their employers a range of responsibilities. These include:

  • The responsibility to pay their employees on time and with the correct amount of pay
  • The implementation of health and safety
  • A platform on which employee concerns and complaints can be heard and dealt with in a fair way
  • A contract, outlining their role in the company and their rights as an employee
  • Work for the employee to do
  • The right to a fair, accurate and true reference should the employee’s position come to an end
  • A duty of mutual trust and confidence

How Employers can Breach their Responsibilities to Employees

Just as an employee can breach the terms of their contract with an employer, an employer can breach their responsibilities and duty of care to their staff. Examples of breaches include:

  • Theft
  • Harassment
  • Violence
  • Unwilling to pay Contractual Sick Pay
  • Non-payment of wages
  • Changes to terms and conditions of contractual agreement

employment tribunals

 If you believe that an employer has breached their contract to you as an employee, you can discuss further actions with citizens advice. Alternatively, you can call ACAS, who can help you further.

Data Protection Act Employers Responsibilities

Employing new staff members can seem pretty straightforward – when you know, as an employer, what duties and responsibilities are needed when hiring them. Complying with the law surrounding new starters will make you more reliable as a company, and can be more profitable to you in the long run. When you employ people who lack the necessary skills to work for you, you may find that you encounter low morale, high absence levels and a rise in employment tribunal claims. This is why it’s important to understand the following when hiring new staff members:

  • The law – It’s important to understand the legal rights of workers and employees.
  • Employee Contracts – When hiring someone new, you have until two months into their employment to give them their contract. A contract should ideally set out information surrounding holidays, pay, time off and entitlements.
  • Pay – Make sure you’re paying your workers and employees the National Living Wage
  • Communication – Communicating with your workers is the key to a happy and pleasant starting point in their carer. Ensure they are happy, aware of their rights and responsibilities, and that they understand their role perfectly.
  • Data Protection – As an employer, you will also need to ensure that the personal data of your staff is secure under the law of the data protection act.

Employer Tax Responsibilities

Employers must provide a workplace pension for eligible staff. You can double check if you are an official employer on the government website, however, you will usually be classed as an employer if you pay National Insurance and deduct tax from employee pay. For an employee to be eligible for a pension in the workplace, they must be under the state pension age, work in the UK and earn over £10,000 per year.

If you don’t already offer a pension scheme for staff, you will need to introduce one as soon as possible. It will soon be against the law to withhold a pension scheme from those you employ. To set up a scheme, you will need to take a look at the dedicated government pensions site. Currently, employers must pay at least 1% of employees earnings into the workplace pension. In 2018, this will rise to 2%, and to 3% in 2019.

If you are an employer and need assistance with paying your staff, call the PAYE Employers Helpline.

Skills Shortage in the Construction Industry Increases

Less and less people are undertaking careers within the construction industry and the problem has now gotten so bad that the skills shortage has been described to be at ‘breaking point’. The main problem lies in the East Midlands where a report released by Scape Group, an environmentalist specialist, has shown that construction output has decreased by 6.4 % quarterly and there are simply not enough skilled workman to undertake important construction jobs. The skill shortage situation has even been described as severe by many SME’s.  After the Construction Industry Scheme was released in 1999 for contractors and subcontractors alike it has been the responsibility of construction workers to pay a percentage of their pay to HM Revenue and Customs in the form of tax. Could this be what is contributing to the lack of drive to work within the construction industry today?construction skills shortage

As with many industries, there is a constant high demand for construction and the effects of not having the workers with the right skills for the job can be somewhat disastrous for business. It has been highlighted that many small businesses have regretted not investing in training for new construction workers during the recession are now faced with a huge rise in workload, and no-one skilled enough for the job. The vote for a Brexit has also left some builders sceptical about the construction industry’s future as many of their skilled workers have come from outside the EU. They have warned that if they are not allowed to remain in the EU they will be losing a lot of skilled workers, leading to a further skills shortage. Amanda Clack, the president of the Roal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has said that they are facing the biggest construction skills shortage in twenty years and with a Brexit potentially restricting access to a skilled workforce within the construction industry, it could be that Britain is forced to stop building altogether. A study concluded in 2014 that over 100, 000 of Britain’s construction workers were from outside the EU and so when looked at in this way, it is a huge amount of workers to lose from an already rather desperate situation. Although the Government have not yet said what their exact policy on immigration is to be, Clack is urging them to consider these issues when the talks do come about.

The majority of the shortage is thought to lie in the areas of skilled plasterers and bricklayers which unfortunately is where the majority of the work is. The business development director from Robert Woodhead construction has said that the best thing that can now be done is to focus on training young people with the skills needed to work in construction as this is going to be the most beneficial investment in the long run. Taking on apprentices will ensure that young people are being brought into the industry. Educating young people about the construction industry is the best way in encouraging them to continue on that career path and so stimulating activities such as hands-on work experience are being carried out. The biggest project at the moment is the £30m Biocity Extension which is being constructed through major firm Willmott Dixon. It is giving young people the opportunity to visit sites as well as engaging directly with schools and colleges in an attempt to recruit some new young workers. With constructions firms having huge clients such as universities and shopping centres it is important that the workers are skilled in these areas.

So why is it that a skills shortage has occurred? And not just any skills shortage, but a shortage so huge that it is delaying the building of vital infrastructure within the UK? Whilst the question to this may be a difficult one to answer, there is definitely an urgency surrounding the industry to put an end to the shortage, with the Construction Industry Training Board forecasting that in order to get back on track, they will have to take on 224, 000 new skilled workers by the year 2019. Much to the economy’s despair, because construction industry workers are in such high demand, their wages and the cost of their work has risen significantly (by 6% in the past year to be precise). As much as his may be seen as a bad thing by some, construction managers are hoping that the wage increase will encourage more and more people to want to work within the industry even if it had before seemed an unattractive career choice. In college today, there are many construction apprenticeships and courses that young people can undertake and many of them are even paid whilst they train.  However, unfortunately, the effects of the shortage are already being seen in homes across the UK, with the number of buildings with unimplemented planning permission rising from 381, 000 in 2012 -13 to 443, 000 in 2013-14, because, after all, it takes construction skills to build, not to plan.