Employment Law in the UK

Are you thinking of starting up a new business, or do you simply want to know what your rights and obligations in the workplace are under UK employment law?

Employment law deals with the complex and ever-changing relationship between employers, their employees and trade unions.

In the UK employment law has a long and rich history, beginning with the 1388 Cambridge Statute, which banned the sudden movement of workers across the UK by their employers.

This set the precedent for a whole range of employment legislation over the coming centuries that would establish the rights and obligations of both employers and the workers they employ.

Highlights of this ever-changing process include the abolition of slavery in 1833 and the establishment of the old age pension in 1908.

Today UK employment law is mainly enshrined in three separate acts of Parliament:

  • Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act 1992
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • The Equality Act 2010

As complex as this legislation is, it can be roughly divided into two different groupings:

Individual Employment and the Law

This is the law that deals with the legal rights of the individual employee, it encompasses several well known pieces of legislation, including:

  • The National Minimum Wage
  • The hours you can legally work without an employer requesting you do more
  • The right to be free from discrimination, harassment or victimisation in the workplace
  • The right to maternity/paternity leave
  • The right to protection from unfair dismissal or redundancy

Collective Employment and the Law

The legislation surrounding collective employment is concerned with the employee’s role within the decision making process.

If a company employs over fifty people, for example, the management is legally obliged to inform them of any major decisions involving the company’s size or competiveness.

The legislation that concerns the triangular relationship between the employees, their employers and any trade unions that are involved also falls into the category of collective employment.