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 0300 200 3200.
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.
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:
- Unwilling to pay Contractual Sick Pay
- Non-payment of wages
- Changes to terms and conditions of contractual agreement
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.