The law gives employees certain rights at work. These might be contractual rights agreed with their employer or statutory rights defined by Government legislation.

Employment rights include things such as:

  • Contracts and written statements
  • The National Minimum Wage
  • Hours of work
  • Holiday entitlements
  • Health and safety protection
  • Protection from unlawful discrimination or harassment
  • Redundancy
  • The Right to Time Off for Study or Training

The information is this section is only a guide and does not cover every circumstance. We have done our best to make sure the information is correct. Some of the information may become inaccurate over time, for example because of changes to the law.

Contracts and written statements

Employers must legally provide a written statement outlining the main terms of employment within eight weeks of employment commencing.

The GOV.UK website can offer practical help and advice to employers.

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage is a legal right which covers almost all workers above compulsory school leaving age. An Apprenticeship rate is paid to apprentices under the age of 19 or in their first year of an Apprenticeship. Apprentices aged 19 or over who have completed their first year get the rate that applies to their age.

The National Living Wage was introduced in April 2016 for workers over age 25.

Hours of work

With some exceptions, workers over the age of 18 should not have to work more than 48 hours a week, although workers can make an agreement with you to opt out of the 48 hour limit.

The working time regulations specify different rules for young workers under the age of 18.Under 18s must not work more than 8 hours a day or more than 40 hours each week.

If you employ anyone under the compulsory school leaving age there are also special regulations.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website .

Holiday entitlements

All full-time workers have the right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave (28 days for someone working five days a week) although you may wish to offer more. Part-time workers are entitled to 5.6 times their usual working week (eg, 22.4 days for someone working four days a week).

Employers can choose to include bank holidays as part of an employee's minimum paid holiday entitlement but this should be stated in an individual's contract of employment. Employees have no legal right to take bank holidays off work or to enhanced payments if they do work on a bank holiday, and any other arrangements should be stated in an individual's contract of employment.

Health and safety protection

As an employer, you are responsible for the health and safety to your employees, visitors and customers and the general public.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out many of your responsibilities for health and safety at work. Whatever the size of your business, you must make the workplace safe and prevent risks to health. You should carry out a 'risk assessment' to identify potential health and safety hazards, together with a specific risk assessment for under 18 year old employees.

If you employ five or more people, you must keep an official record of your risk assessment and you must also have a formal health and safety policy.

The Health and Safety Executive is responsible for enforcing health and safety at work.

For more information and advice, contact the Health and Safety Executive on Telephone 0300 003 1747 between 8.30am-5pm Monday to Friday, or visit their website.

Protection from unlawful discrimination or harassment

It is unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers on the grounds of age, race, religion or belief, disability, sex, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or the membership (or non-membership) of a trade union.

Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helps to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. Acas works with both employers and employees to solve problems in the work place and improve performance and can provide up-to-date information, independent advice and training. For more information visit the Acas website or call Telephone 0300 123 1100, Monday-Friday 8am-6pm.


There are a number of reasons an employer may have to dismiss staff to reduce their workforce. All employees have a right to be treated fairly, have the right to be consulted, have the right to a statutory period of notice and they may be entitled to a redundancy payment.

For more information and advice, visit the Acas website or call Telephone 0300 123 1100, Monday-Friday 8am-6pm.

The GOV.UK website can also offer practical help and advice to employers.

The Right to Time Off for Study or Training

Employees who work in businesses of 250 employees or more have the right to request time off from work to undertake study or training.

To request the study or training, staff must be classed as an ‘employee’ and must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. The training must help them do their job better.

Staff can’t ask for time off for training or study if they are in the Armed Forces, an agency worker, are of compulsory school age or aged 16-18 and already expected to take part in education or training.

The time off is usually unpaid unless the employer agrees to pay it.

For more information and advice about requesting time off for study or training, visit the GOV.UK website.