Employment Law Update 3: Employment Rights

December 19, 2011 11:13 am - Categorised in: ,

Question  
I have been told that I have no employment rights until I have at least 12 months’ continuous service with my employer –  is this right?

Answer
That employees have few or no rights as against their employer during the first year of employment is a common misconception.

Many employment rights are available from the outset of the employment relationship.  These include but are not limited to:-

– The right not to have monies unlawfully deducted from your wage;
– Protection from discrimination on numerous grounds including race, gender and religious belief;
– Statutory minimum entitlements to annual leave and notice on termination of employment;
– Statutory minimum wage

It is commonly understood that an employee is unable to claim for unfair dismissal against a former employer without 12 months’ continuous service.  In the majority of cases this is accurate. However, employment legislation prescribes certain types of dismissal which are deemed automatically unfair from day one of the employment relationship. These include, amongst others:-

– Dismissals for reasons connected to the employee’s pregnancy;
– Health and safety dismissals; and
– In the case of shop and betting workers, dismissals relating to the employee’s refusal to work on a Sunday

It should not, therefore, be assumed that an employee without 12 months’ continuous service can be dismissed for any reason. Employers should be vigilant when dismissing employees regardless of the employee’s length of service.

It should be noted that as from 6 April 2012, the qualifying period for an employee to bring an unfair dismissal claim is to increase from 1 year to 2 years’ continuous employment. There shall remain, however, categories of dismissal – such as those noted above – which will continue to be deemed automatically unfair and will therefore not require the employee to have 2 years’ service.

If in any doubt as to your rights and/or obligations under employment legislation, you should seek professional assistance.

Employment law is complex and always changing and you should always seek specialist advice.

Ellis-Fermor & Negus solicitors have offices across the East Midlands.  Please contact Darren Kelly on 01773 744 744; email d.kelly@ellis-fermor.co.uk or visit www.ellis-fermor.co.uk.

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