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Many workers 'in the dark'

By Siobhan Harding

Published 08/12/2008

Last week Citizens Advice Northern Ireland launched an evidence report entitled “In the Dark” which highlighted the fact that many people do not know what their basic employment rights are and many also have difficulty in asserting these rights at work.

This article will focus on a brief summary of some of the main statutory employment rights which most employees are entitled to:

  • An employee is entitled to an itemised pay statement each time they are paid;
  • Employers must give their employees a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment within two months of commencing employment;
  • Workers are entitled to paid annual leave from the first day of employment. During the first year of employment the amount of leave a worker may take at any time is limited to the amount they have “accrued” at that time. Accrual is at the rate of one-twelfth of the annual entitlement at the beginning of each month;
  • The amount of statutory paid annual leave that a worker is entitled to can be worked out by multiplying their normal working week by 4.8 (for example, if you work five days per week - 5 x 4.8 = 24 days paid annual leave per year).

There is no statutory right to have bank or public holidays with or without pay. Bank or public holidays which the worker has off will count towards the worker's statutory holiday, unless their contract gives bank/public holidays in addition to statutory holidays);

  • A female employee is entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave (made up of 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave followed by 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave) regardless of her length of service. A female employee is entitled to 39 weeks statutory maternity pay if she has been continuously employed for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and has average weekly earnings of at least the national insurance lower earnings limit;
  • Employees who have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, may be entitled to paid paternity leave of up to two weeks for the birth or adoption of a child;
  • Employees who have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks, may be entitled to 52 weeks Statutory Adoption Leave if they have a child matched/ placed with them for adoption. Statutory Adoption Pay is paid for 39 weeks;
  • Employees who have completed one year’s service are entitled to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child under the age of five (18 weeks if the child has a disability) — this right applies to both parents;
  • Employees who have worked for their employer continuously for 26 weeks, have the right to request flexible working to look after a child under the age of 6 (18 if the child has a disability) or to care for a spouse, partner, civil partner or adult relative who is in need of care, or care for someone who is in need of care but does not fall into any of the above categories but who lives at the same address as the carer;
  • All employees are entitled to reasonable time off work without pay to deal with an emergency involving a dependant;
  • The current rate of National Minimum Wage is £5.73 per hour for those aged 22 and over, £4.77 per hour for those aged 18-21 and £3.53 per hour for 16 and 17 year olds;
  • Employees qualify for Statutory Sick Pay if they are sick for four days in a row;
  • A worker's average working time, including overtime, for each seven-day period must not exceed 48 hours, unless the worker agrees to work more than this;
  • A worker who works more than six hours at a stretch is entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes, a worker under 18 who works for more than four and a half hours at a stretch is entitled to a rest break of 30 minutes;
  • All part-time workers are entitled to the same contractual rights (pro-rata) as full-time workers;
  • An employee must be working for an employer for at least two years in order to qualify for statutory redundancy pay;
  • An employee is entitled to receive at least one weeks notice for each year of completed service subject to a maximum of twelve weeks.

Complete details on your employment rights can be obtained from your local CAB.

Siobhan Harding is an Information and Policy Officer with Citizens Advice

Belfast Telegraph

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