A contract is a legally enforceable agreement that the employee and the employer must enter into of their own free will. Every employee needs to have a contract. The contract is the agreement between both parties, not simply the physical document. But there should be a written document that acts as evidence of the agreement.
The contract must only be agreed and signed after the terms of the agreement have been decided upon and made clear to the employee. And if you break the contract, you will be subject to a legal challenge by the employee. So, make sure you understand and are able to fulfill all the commitments in the contract.
Discrimination by an employer against an employee is illegal. Discrimination can take many forms; these include race, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, union membership, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation. There are some exceptions. For example, if a disability renders a person unable to carry out a certain task safely, they can be ruled out for a job.
Discrimination can be both direct or indirect. But it’s vital that an employer does everything possible to eliminate all forms of discrimination. If you don’t, you could be one the wrong end of a legal prosecution. This could lead to fines that damage the business. And the damage to the business’s reputation could be permanent.
If you dismiss someone from their job, you need to make sure that you’re within your rights to do so. If you’re not, you could find yourself in court or at an industrial tribunal. If this does happen to you, you should seek out employment law advice for employers. You don’t want to have to pay out huge sums in compensation.
But the best way to avoid this eventuality is to not sack people incorrectly in the first place. Unfair dismissal is when the employee feel that the reason for their sacking was unfair. Wrongful dismissal is when an employee is sacked, and the right procedures are not followed by the employer concerned.
An employee is entitled to the minimum wage that is made clear in the law. Any employer not paying the minimum wage, which will soon be rising, is in breach of the law and could be prosecuted. The exact level of payment should be made explicitly clear in the contract signed by all parties upon employment.
There are some problems that need to be avoided. For example, if an employer is giving pay rises to everyone in the office, but one person is excluded, this could be regarded as capricious behaviour. And this can allow the worker to take legal action. And if you accidentally overpay an employee, you are not entitled to get any of that money back from them.
For every employee working 5 days per week, they are entitled to 28 days paid holidays each year, which includes bank holidays. If the employment contract doesn’t make it clear that the employee is entitled to bank holidays off, there is no requirement for the employer to allow them to take these days off.
The contract should also make it clear if the employee is entitled to get paid for untaken holidays. If there is no mention of this in the contract, it’s usually assumed that the employee will not be entitled to pay for leave that isn’t taken. The contract should also approach the issue of carrying forward unused holidays from one year to the next.
Sickness and Maternity
An employee who is suffering from sickness is entitled to statutory sick pay, as long as all the conditions are met. Some employers may include further benefits for sick pay in the employment contract. This is something for the employer to decide upon at the time when the contract is drawn up.
Maternity and paternity leave laws can be quite complicated, so it’s important that you do your own research into them if you want to be 100% clear. Both parents are entitled to some time off, and this counts for adoptions as well as ordinary births. To find out exactly how much you’ll need to pay, how long they get off and what the conditions are, you should do further research.
There are other types of leave that you need to understand too. Employees are entitled to paid leave for a number of reasons, such as taking part in ante-natal classes when pregnant. And if they’re acting as a representative of a trade union. They must also be paid when looking for work following a notice of redundancy.
There are times when they must be allowed unpaid leave as well. If they need to look after a dependent or family member, they must be allowed unpaid time off work. People who are called up to jury service or are fulfilling some other kind of public role (such as magistrate work), also require leave.
It is entirely up to the individual employee whether or not they choose to join a trade union. If they choose to do this, you need to accept their decision and recognise the union. Any industrial action must be authorised by a ballot of members before it can be recognised. And the employer must be given seven days notice before the action starts.
When on strike, an employee is not entitled to pay for the duration of the industrial action, and they are not entitled to PAYE tax refunds. But they cannot be sacked for taking industrial action, and an employee that has taken such action cannot be dismissed for 13 weeks.
The information and advice above outlines the key areas of employment law that every employer needs to know about. So, make sure you don’t break any employment laws.
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