Know Your Employment Rights

Whether you’re just starting a new position or you’ve been working in an established company for many years, it is important that you familiarise yourself with your work and employment rights. You may find yourself in a position where you are in discussion with your employer regarding your employment, so you’ll need to be up to scratch on what you are entitled to as an employee.

For example, if you have noticed that your employer is going against basic rights, or you have been denied rights that you are entitled to, it is important to not only raise these with management but also have a clear idea of what you’re talking about, so you can get the best possible outcome.

The Wilkes Partnership are leading suppliers of employment advice services in and around the Birmingham area and are here to offer honest and up to date advice for employees. Keep reading to learn more about the basic rights you are entitled to, as well as any other rights you should be aware of.

Basic Employment Rights

When you start to work for a company, there are some basic working rights that everyone within the company will be entitled to. For example, as an employee, you must have:

  • A contract of employment – this contact should clearly outline certain rights and obligations.
  • Realistic working hours – the maximum amount of working hours is 48 hours per week.
  • Rest breaks at work – you’ll probably be entitled to rest breaks at work, depending on your working hours.
  • Time off work – the law permits you to take time off work for varying circumstances.

These are the first things you should be checking for when you start any new position, regardless of where you choose to work. If a business fails to provide these basic rights, you can either choose to challenge them or simply look for work elsewhere.


With any job, the pay is an incredibly important factor in your work. Employees will be offered a salary either based on previous experience or to the discretion of the manager.

You have a legal right to a payslip. If you notice any major issues, speak formally with your manager to resolve any issues. You should always check your payslip for any issues that may arise. Look for things such as:

  • Whether you’ve been paid for the number of hours you’ve actually worked
  • If you’ve been paid at the correct rate
  • If you’ve been paid for overtime, commission or bonus
  • Whether you’ve been paid any sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay that you were expecting
  • If your employer has deducted any money that you weren’t expecting

When you leave a job, you may be owed money for things such as:

  • Holiday pay
  • Redundancy pay
  • Sick pay – if you were off sick in your notice period
  • Maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave pay

Many employees forget to check these basic rights when departing from a position. Ensure you plan an exit review with your employer to discuss if you are entitled to pay for any of the above reasons. 

Most employees are entitled to get paid at least the National Minimum Wage. If you are aged 25 or over, you are entitled to the National Living Wage. If you suspect that your employer is not paying you the correct wage, it is important to get employment advice as soon as possible. 

The current National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage Rates are as follows:

April 2019

  • 25 and over: £8.21
  • 21 to 24: £7.70
  • 18 to 20: £6.16
  • Under 18: £4.35
  • Apprentice: £3.90

Breaks and Holiday Entitlement

If you are an employee who works five days a week, you are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of paid leave per year. You employer may choose to include public holidays in this total. It is important to use your holiday entitlement, as many companies will not carry this over to the next working year. It is also imperative for your health and wellbeing to take proper breaks from work.

Within the working day, you are also entitled to lunch breaks. By law, you are entitled to a 20-minute rest break if you work more than 6 hours in one shift and additional breaks may be given by your employer. You are not legally entitled to cigarette breaks. 


This topic may often cause complications within a workplace, due to companies having their own procedures. However, there are a clear set of legal rules which all employees and employers must follow.

For example, as an employee, you may need time off work due to sickness. You can self-certify your illness until you’ve had 7 days off where you will then need to supply a doctor’s note. You have the right to use your holiday entitlement during your period of sickness.

Your employer may not always offer sick pay, however, the weekly rate of Statutory Sick Pay is £92.05 for up to 28 weeks. All employees are entitled to this by law. It is up to your employer if they have their own sick pay scheme and wish to pay you in full for time off due to sickness.

Parental Rights

If you’re pregnant, you have a range of workplace rights that you are entitled to. This includes:

Your employer must provide these as basic rights and cannot discriminate against you, nor refuse to provide these statutory rights. If you are facing issues with your employer regarding maternity leave and pay, seek employment advice urgently from The Wilkes Partnership. 

If your partner is having a child, you are also entitled to basic rights such as 1-2 weeks of paid paternity leave or shared parental leave and/or pay. Ensure you discuss these with your employer before your child is born.

Do You Have Any Questions Regarding your Workplace Rights?

If you’re having any concerns about your employer’s treatment of you and other members of staff, contact The Wilkes Partnership for employment advice today. With years of experience in the employment sector, we can offer genuine employment advice to ensure the best outcome for our clients.

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