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.

Investigation into Uber Drivers and their so-called Self-Employed Status

The relatively new rise of the ‘gig’ economy has sparked controversy amongst one of the UK’s biggest taxi companies. This new trend is where employers hire workers that are self employed rather than keeping them on their books. In recent years this method of employment has taken the UK by a controversial storm, with popular food deliverer Deliveroo and courier Hermes also adopting the same policy. Uber drivers all act as ‘free-lance’ workers, being offered work through the Uber app, whenever a cab is requested. Due to the convenience and easiness of booking the cab, as well as knowing whereabouts it is and what time it will turn up, Uber has had an extremely quick rise to success. Launched in 2009, the company is said to now be worth $4 billion. There has however, been some confusion as to whether Uber drivers are technically employed by the company or technically self employed? The issue has sparked controversy recently as it has been reported that 19 drivers are taking the company to court over claims that they are employed by the company, yet do not receive the benefits that come with this. It has been suggested that employment status can reduce an employee’s costs by as much as 30%, so it’s important that the issue is resolved and the record set straight. Person using the Uber app

Self-employed?

The Uber drivers in question have argued that their terms and conditions state they are in fact employed by the company, and are appearing in court this week to argue their point and receive what they are owed. The trial is due to start on the 20th July and will make reference to the 30, 000 Uber drivers in London alone, all of whom are registered as self-employed. A solicitor that will be representing the drivers wants to explore Uber’s claims that they are a technology firm, rather than a service providing transport. They do not directly provide transport and rather put customers in touch with drivers, who then collect them of their own accord. Solicitors are determined to prove them wrong. Solicitor Annie Powell is arguing that Uber driver’s are subject to rates and as a result they are workers, for the firm. Workers understandably do not have the same rights as employees but are still quite rightly entitled to minimum wage, holiday pay and the right not to face salary deductions. Despite claims that the gig economy has sparked a decline in employment rights, London’s Uber manager has claimed that being self employed, choosing your own hours and working when it suits you is one of the things that have attracted many people to leave their current firms and take up work with Uber.

Case of the year

The trials are the first time Uber has had legal action taken against them in the UK and if it is found that Uber are wrongly titling their workers as self-employed, the same could happen to other businesses that operate similarly. The trial has been named as the case of the year for employment law. The battle will be to give all Uber drivers a ‘worker’ status, which will com with a whole host of rights that they do not have any access to at the moment. it will also give them basic protection that self-employed workers do not get. In the past, Uber has been accused of deducting from a ‘worker’s’ salary and not informing them beforehand, something that has sparked a trial. Ironically, worker’s rights also involve the right to litigate which is something that Uber usually like to avoid. Interesting…

What Would a Brexit Mean for your Employment Rights?

With the referendum looming, there has been a lot of discussion over what would actually happen if we were to leave the EU and go our separate ways. A topic that many people understandably have concerns over is our employment rights. Will they still stand should a Brexit occur? Or will we be left in the lurch when it comes to our jobs? In the past, many basic rights that we perhaps take advantage of in the workplace, such as maternity leave, holiday pay and the right to work free from any discriminations have been neglected from debates. The debates tend to focus on migrant welfare and child benefits, so what will really happen to our rights in the workplace that supposedly exist because of our EU involvement, if we decide to go?

The laws within the work place such as maternity leave, were introduced to the UK in the form of directives from the EU, but then implemented with new laws in the UK, so if they were to be overturned, they couldn’t be without parliamentary permission. This basically means that our employment rights may not be in as much danger as some might think. In fact, our rights in the workplace often exceed what is the EU minimum, maternity leave for example being 52 weeks in the UK, a big difference to the minimum of 14 weeks that the EU requires, leaving it doubtful that much change would occur should we leave. The same goes for holidays, with UK exceeding what is required in the EU. www.hmrctalk.co.uk

Little to no change

Brexit know that any changes to these rights would be extremely unpopular with the British public and is not likely to swing voters, so they are keen to show how things will not change. We have strict discrimination laws within our workplaces and any changes to these would not be met with open arms. If things were to change, and Vote Leave won the vote, the withdrawal from the EU would be a lengthy process, and the status quo is not likely to change during this time. Although no-one knows what a Brexit would mean for the UK’s relationship with the EU until it happens, it is likely that the UK government will be required to stick to existing employment laws. Although sometimes forgotten/taken advantage of, a worker’s basic employment rights such as the right to breaks and paid holiday is important to them, and a government that dares mess around with something that is so ingrained into the way the UK works, would be an unpopular one – something of which they are extremely aware. Needless to say, if any unlikely change to rights did occur, aspects such as the minimum wage do not derive from our EU membership and so would not be affected.

Up for review

However, there are some rights that hang in the balance ahead of the big decision, such as  holiday entitlement to those that go off sick, workers may not have the right to carry their holiday entitlement to another year. Redundancies may also be affected, with a Brexit meaning workers may not have the right to be informed or consulted of redundancies before they occur. As it stands, compensation can be provided to anyone that successfully files a discrimination report, with no caps or restrictions, leaving the EU may restrict this. The treatment of agency workers at the moment, are expected to be the same as those in permanent employment, as well as requiring record keeping, that is a pet hate with employers. It is believed this right may suffer in the hands of a Brexit.

Life after the EU

Life after the EU, should Britain choose to leave, is pretty much unknown at the minute, but it is unlikely that a relationship built over 40 years, will completely breakdown. At a minimum, it is expected that some form of trade relationship will remain, and there would be a possibility of alternative set-ups such as a unique relationship between the EU and the UK. All of this being said, it seems that there should be little concern over what will happen to our employment rights should a Brexit occur, as things probably wont change much from what we already know.