Your rights to working in the UK

1 minute read | 12 August 2022

When you’re becoming an employee, it is very important to know your rights. Whether you’ve never worked in the UK, or you just arrived in the country, it’s very important to understand the law and what you’re eligible to.

From the different employment statuses to work time regulations and sick pay, we created this article to help you find the current and up to date information.

Main types of employment status.

There are a couple of different types of employment statuses, so it’s important to know which one you are in, as they vary significantly.

  • Worker: You might be working under a casual, freelance, or zero-hours contract.
  • Employee: You work under an employment contract. Although all employees are workers, employees also have some additional rights when comparing to workers.
  • Self-employed and contractor: This means you are self-employed and don’t have a work contract; you still have some protections, but for most cases employment law does not cover you, as you are your own boss.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

The minimum hourly rate you get paid varies depending on your age. However, if you are aged 23 or over, it’s the National Living Wage that applies instead. There are other factors that can influence your wage, for example if you are under an apprenticeship program.

For more information on the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage click here

Working time regulations.

As mentioned above, employees have several protections and basic rights which we’ve listed below. It is worth mentioning that full-time and part-time employees should have the same contractual rights.

  • You are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days if you work 5 days a week) paid leave per year - your employer can choose to include public holidays in this total
  • You do not need to work more than 48 hours in a week unless you freely choose to opt-out of the limit and give your employer confirmation of this in writing
  • You have the right to either an uninterrupted 24 hours clear of work each week or 48 hours clear of work each fortnight
  • You are permitted at least 11 hours rest between working days (eg if you finish work at 8pm, you should not start again until at least 7am the next day)
  • You are entitled to a 20-minute rest break, if you work more than 6 hours in one shift and additional breaks may be given by your contract of employment
    • there are a few exceptions to these rights – including the armed forces and emergency services – but the principle is that all workers should have on average at least 90 hours rest a week

It’s worth checking your employment contract as it may say you’re entitled to more or different rights to breaks from work.

Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) this is required by law and includes keeping the workplace clean, maintaining the equipment used and providing facilities such as toilets and wash basins.

Sick Leave and Pay.

Sick leave is when you take time off because you’re sick. You only need to provide proof of illness after you’ve taken 7 days off sick days. The minimum weekly rate for Statutory Sick is £95.85 for up to 28 weeks. Your employer may offer you more if they have a company sick pay scheme, but they can’t offer you less.

  • Regarding gender reassignment: if you need to take off because of gender reassignment, your employer can’t discriminate against you and should the situation the same as all other absences.


In the UK the Equality Act 2010 makes sure no employee has to work in an environment that is discriminating. If any colleague or employer discriminates you on the called “protected characteristics”, they are breaking the law. The protected characteristics are the following:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • gender reassignment and gender identity
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Harassment and discrimination can take many different forms. If you think you are being unfairly treated at work, you can contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) or you can take a look at the website for more information.

Check out our article on discrimination for more information here and our article on harassment here


Regardless of the contract type you have; you must receive a payslip. This is your right as an employee and your employer has to provide one. The payslip should be given before or on the day you get paid either on paper or online. It must show a detailed breakdown of your salary in a specific time period including any deductions. To know more about payslips check our article here

Protection against unfair dismissal.

When an employer chooses to terminate an employment contract, they must give a lawful sustained reason for the termination. In addition to this, an employer must follow “procedure” during this process following the ethical and fair practices, as well as give you the agreed amount of notice which was defined in your contract. However, there are cases where the dismissal could be considered unfair.

A fair termination of contract occurs under one of the following reasons:

  • Your conduct
  • Redundancy
  • Your ability to do the job
  • You no longer meet a legal requirement necessary to carry out your job
  • You can also have your contract terminated for other substantial reason outside of the mentioned.
Although you must be employed continuously employed by your employer for a minimum of two years to be legally protected against unfair dismissal, there are some specific situations of unfair dismissal that you’re protected from your first workday. These include:
  • Being dismissed because of a protected characteristic, such as race, religion, pregnancy, or sexual orientation.
  • Whistleblowing (if you report wrongdoing you’ve seen at work).
  • Refusing to give up a statutory right, such as the right to a break or asking for flexible working hours.
  • Being a member of a trade union.
If an employment tribunal decided the dismissal was unfair, employers will have to pay the employee compensation which can be up to one year’s pay.

For more information on your rights as a worker in the UK click here 

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