Our top tips!
- Communicate with your employer
The first step in solving a dispute regarding your rights is to speak to your employer. Explain your concerns and ask them to provide any changes or accommodations you feel will fulfil your rights as an employee. You do this in a letter rather than in person if you prefer.
- Take notes and keep records
Making a detailed diary of events and conversations with your employer that you feel have breached your rights is helpful for if you decide to take legal action. Professionals can provide support much quicker if you’re able to give them exact details straight away.
Know your rights!
Just simply knowing your rights as an employee or an applicant is important. Do research into employment rights and make sure you’re confident in what you deserve as an employee. This will help you to identify when your employment rights are not fulfilled.
What are employment rights?
Employers have to abide by a specific set of rules and regulations to ensure each employee is treated fairly. The Employment Rights Act (1966) covers the rights of employees over a range of topics including dismissal, redundancy, confidentiality and parental leave.
The Employment Equality Act also outlaws discrimination in a range of areas related to employment, such as equal pay, sexual harassment, disability and working conditions.
Knowing your rights as an employee is critical to ensure you are being treated fairly by your employer. If you believe you’ve been mistreated by your employer, it is also important that you know where to seek support.
The following resources may be useful for finding support:
- Young Women’s Trust are campaigning to extend the National Living Wage to young people and offer valuable information on job hunting aimed at women.
- The UK Government offers advice on laws and regulations surrounding workplace bullying and harassment.
- Citizens Advice offers a wide range of support for a variety of different issues including discrimination at work.
- Advicenow offers advice on workplace issues with free downloadable guides.
You can also speak to our mentors, who will help you understand your employment rights and give you advice.
What if I'm having issues at work?
If you are having issues at work, you should look into what policies and procedures are available to help you out. Every employer should have a grievance procedure and a whistleblowing policy.
Grievance – If you are having problems about absolutely anything, such as your pay, the way someone is treating you, or health and safety, you can raise a grievance to ask your employer to investigate this.
Whistleblowing – If there are serious issues and you don’t feel comfortable raising them or want to remain anonymous, you can use whistleblowing to make anonymous complaints about issues occuring in your workplace.
All matters should be handled confidentially. If an employer breaches your confidentiality (either accidentally or on purpose) by sharing personal information without your consent, get some advice on how to proceed.
What do I need to consider?
My employee rights
It is really important for you to be proactive in understanding your rights as an employee. This is especially important if your employers are trying to make changes, so you know what they can and can’t do. Read your contract too!
Their employer rights
It is equally important to understand the rights that your employer has. If your employer has the right to make certain changes, you will not be able to prevent it. If they don’t have the right to do something, you can ask them to stop or take action.
All of your rights and your employer’s rights are usually underpinned in law. This means everyone has the same rights across the board. You should not be expected to know the details of the law yourself, but remember the law plays a role.
This should always be a last resort, but if you are unable to resolve any issues you are having, you can take action. It is usually a good idea to talk to ACAS or a solicitor before doing this.
What if they are trying to dismiss me?
Your employer has the right to dismiss you if they have a good reason, meaning behaviour that constitutes “gross misconduct” in their policy.
But an employer cannot dismiss you without a reason, or unfairly. Unfair dismissal is when your employer doesn’t give a fair or valid reason for dismissing you. This can be the case if the employer doesn’t follow the company’s formal dismissal process.
Unfair dismissal can follow on from various situations, such as asking for flexible working hours, joining a trade union, whistleblowing, taking leave (such as for jury service or parental leave) and many others.
If you have a case for constructive dismissal (if you are forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct) then you should leave your job immediately. If you stay, your employer may argue that you have accepted the conduct.
Situations where you may have a case for constructive dismissal include if your employer isn’t paying you, demotes you for no reason, forces you to accept unreasonable changes to your work or does not act if you are being bullied or harassed.
Remember you should always attempt to solve the dispute by talking to your employer first. Following this, you can escalate the issue and take action.
I think I might need some help... what do I do?
Understanding your employment rights is an important first step when you are walking into your first job and potentially your life-long career. Take the time to read up on your rights.
If you are struggling to understand your rights, or are facing issues in your workplace, reach out to someone.
Speak to us
Sometimes you can be struggling with things but not want to talk to somebody at your workplace about it, particularly if it’s about things such as your relationship with your manager. If that is the case, reach out to our caring mentors who can help you out! You can also speak to your family and friends, who may have had similar experiences and can give you advice.
Speak to somebody at work
It is really important to speak with someone at work when you are having issues, otherwise they won’t know and won’t be able to help. Speak with your manager, a colleague you trust or someone in HR.
Speak to a third party
This should be a last resort, as you should always try and resolve issues with your employer first. If you are having issues that can’t be resolved, reach out to ACAS or a solicitor for extra support.
What if I have a disability?
Disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Disability discrimination refers to instances where you are at a disadvantage because of your condition. This can include:
- Your employer refusing to provide reasonable adjustments in the workplace
- Your employer withdrawing a job offer at any stage of the application process when they learn about your condition
- An employer firing you due to absences related to your disability
- Workplace bullying related to your disability
Having a disability does not mean you should be treated any differently in the workplace. However, your employer may need to make reasonable adjustments to make sure you are comfortable working for them.
Discrimination can happen at any stage of employment, including during the application process, interviews, promotions, attending work and dismissal. Employers are responsible for providing accommodations for disabled employees. These can include:
- Physical adjustments such as different responsibilities or adapted equipment
- Flexible working patterns and hours
- Training other employees on your disability
- Providing a reader, interpreter or personal assistant
If you’re facing discrimination at work, you should start by talking to your manager as soon as possible about what accommodations you need.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you should make a formal complaint. The approach you need to take will depend on your company’s specific procedure. If you’re unsure, speak to HR.
If you are a member of a union, they may also be able to help or act as a mediator. Go to the website for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services (ACAS) for more information on this.
Making a claim for disability discrimination at an employment tribunal should be your last resort. More information can be found on the UK Government website.
What if they are trying to make me redundant?
Redundancy is a form of dismissal from your job that happens when employers need to reduce their workforce or your job no longer exists. If you are made redundant while in a job, you may be eligible for:
- Redundancy pay
- A notice period (minimum of one week’s notice for each year of employment with at least one week’s notice if employed for less than two years)
- A consultation with your employer
- The option to move into a different job
- Time off to find a new job
If you’ve been selected for redundancy as a result of your age, gender, disability or pregnancy, this can be classed as unfair dismissal.
In such cases, you should raise the discrimination with the employer and, if necessary, take further steps to ensure your employment rights are upheld.