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2 Employment - updated version available December '16

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need a contract of employment?

3. Do I have the right to work in the UK?

4. What is the least I should be paid?

5. How many hours can my employer make me work?

6. Does my employer have to recognise my trade union?

7. What if I've been dismissed unfairly?

8. Bringing a statutory claim for unfair dismissal

9. What if I've been made redundant?

10. Bringing a contractual claim for wrongful dismissal

11. What if I've been discriminated against?

Despite laws aimed at stamping it out, discrimination is still a common problem in the workplace. The main aim of the legislation is to prevent you being discriminated against because of your sex, (including if you are transgender), marital status, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief. The law protects part-time and fixed- term workers, as well as full-time employees, from unfair discrimination.  Generally, it is also against the law to discriminate in the recruitment process. 

At present there is no law that prohibits discrimination because of your age, but regulations on this are due to come into force in 2019.

For more information about discrimination, at work and elsewhere, there are three separate CLS Direct leaflets:

What counts as discrimination?
There are two types of discrimination by an employer:

Direct discrimination
This is when you are treated less favourably because of your race, sex (including if your are transgender), marital status, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief - for example, if you are refused a job or promotion because you are a woman or of Asian background.

Indirect discrimination
This is when a group of people (for example, a group of people of a particular race) cannot meet a condition or requirement of their work in the same way as the rest of the population. An example of indirect racial discrimination would be an employer asking all employees (including one who is a Sikh) to wear safety helmets at work without good reason (for example, in an office). A Sikh who wears a turban for religious reasons could say he had been discriminated against if he had to agree to wear the helmet to get the job, and that the need to wear the helmet was not justified.

There is a different test in relation to discrimination because of your sex, marital status, sexual orientation or religion or belief. Indirect sex discrimination is when someone applies a 'provision, criterion or practice' which, although it applies equally to men and women, disadvantages either sex, and which the employer cannot justify as reasonable for their business.  For example, it could be indirect sex discrimination if an employer says, without having a good reason for a height requirement, that they will employ only people over six feet tall, since fewer women than men are over six feet tall.

The Disability Discrimination Act does not yet distinguish between direct and indirect discrimination. However, regulations define what disability discrimination is, and when an employer can justify treating disabled employees less favourably than employees who are not disabled. There is more information about this on the Disability Rights Task Force website - see 'Further help' for the address.

What action can I take if I've been discriminated against?
If you think you have been discriminated against, you can take your case to the employment tribunal. If your claim succeeds, you can be awarded compensation.

12. What are my rights if I work part-time?

13. What are my rights if I'm having a baby?

14. Can I take leave as a new Father?

15. What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?

16. What other leave can I get after my child is born or adopted?

17. Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?

18. Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?

19. Further Help

20. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Ian Hunter, Head of the Employment Department, Bird & Bird, Solicitors.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: January 2019

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