Employment Law – An Overview

I found this article relating to Employment Law which I thought may be of interest. So here it is for you

Prior to employing personnel it is important that the basic legal requirements are understood, to avoid problems in the future. Strict adherence to employment and discrimination law is paramount, to avoid litigation, but also to be seen as a fair employer, which will ensure a content workforce and also prevent negative publicity for the company.

Common Law

This has long recognised that employer’s have implied obligations to their employees. It also gives the employer certain implied rights. Areas covered in clued:

Pay

Limited duty to provide work

Expenses

Duty of mutual trust

Contractual Rights

A duty to ensure safety

The major right of the employer is that the employee will act in god faith.

Employment Rights Act 1996

This has consolidated much of the previous legislation. Updated by the Employment Act 2002 with particular attention to parental leave.

Major provisions:

Employer must provide certain written terms and conditions of employment, including:

When employment started

Rates of Pay

Holiday entitlement and pay

Sick pay

Notice of Termination including period of notice to be given.

Unfair Dismissal

Contracts of Employment

A contract of employment must conform to the rules of any contract. A specific offer and an unequivocal acceptance must take place for it to be binding. It need not be written down although most are. Written particulars of their specific job must he given to employees who work in excess of 8 hours per week.

If a contract is issued, it must be done within 13 weeks of employment start date.

Particulars of the main terms must include:

Names of employer and employee

Job Title

Date employment commenced (this is needed to calculate holiday pay, redundancy pay etc)

Detail on pay.

When salary will be paid.

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Normal working hours per week

Terms & Conditions relating to:

Holiday entitlement & pay

Sick pay and sickness policy and procedure

Pensions

Notice period

Disciplinary and grievance procedures

Other statutory rights for employees include:

Public Duties

Acting as an employee representative

Acting as a pension scheme trustee

Women attending Ante-Natal Care

2002 Employment Act

A woman is entitled to full maternity leave if she has been employed continuously for over 2 years. If she has been employed for less time her entitlement is reduced. The period of entitlement has been raised to 26 weeks. Her job must also be kept open.

Maastricht Treaty – The Social Chapter

The Social Chapter guarantees some basic rights for workers:

A minimum wage

Maximum working week of 48 hours

4 weeks paid holiday per year minimum

freedom to join a Trades Union

Access to appropriate training

Right to be consulted about company plans

The Working Times Regulations 1998 and Young Workers Directive have added substance on how many hours of work and rest a worker should have. Rest periods and breaks are also covered. Employees can opt out of the maximum working hours by agreement, but always have the right to change their minds. Young Workers under 18 years old are entitled to longer rest periods and breaks

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

Outlines the duties of the employer to ensure the welfare of employees, to ensure safe systems of work are in place, and to be responsible for the provision and maintenance of a safe working environment with adequate welfare facilities.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Discrimination to which Act applies

1.-(1) A person discriminates against a woman in any circumstances relevant for the purposes of any provision of this Act if-

(a) On the ground of her sex he treats her less favourably than he treats or would treat a man, or

(b) he applies to her a requirement or condition which he applies or would apply equally to a man but-

(i) Which is such that the proportion of women who can comply with it is considerably smaller than the proportion of men who can comply with it, and

(ii) Which he cannot show to be justifiable irrespective of the sex of the person to whom it is applied, and

(iii) Which is to her detriment because she cannot comply with it.

(2) If a person treats or would treat a man differently according to the man’s marital status, his treatment of a woman is the purposes of subsection (1)(a) to be compared to his treatment of a man having the like marital status.

It is clear that Mandy Roscoe’s idea of only employing slim, attractive women under 25 years old could put the company into legal confrontation.

It is now an offence to discriminate against anyone based on their, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion or faith, race etc. As of 2006 it will become an offence to discriminate against someone because of their age.

The company need to adopt a responsible attitude towards the staff they employ or wish to employ. As well as being morally and legally wrong to discriminate it doesn’t make business sense either, as bad press will certainly damage the company.

Conclusions

It can be seen that the wealth of protective legislation which has come onto the statute books has had a profound effect on business. It does however offer protection to those that need it and should be seen as a positive step towards a safer, fairer future, with less industrial unrest and more productivity.

Sources:

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Needham D. et al 2003 Business for Higher Awards: 2nd Ed: Heinemann

Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003

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