Employment Law in the United Kingdom

by Fisher Phillips
Contact

The United Kingdom (“UK”), comprised of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, has a population of over 62 million people, is culturally diverse and remains one of leading financial and service centers of the world. It is often considered the entry way to the rest of Europe and is a major international trading power. For these reasons, many companies decide to do business in the UK. This article will provide a brief overview of some of the basic employment and labor laws in the UK and will also introduce some of the most critical 2013 labor reforms.

I.  Employment Contracts

Employers within the UK can chose the legal system they wish to govern employment agreements. However, if no choice of law designation has been made in the employment agreement, the law of the country in which the employee is located will typically apply. Additionally, pursuant to the Employment Rights Act of 1996, all employees in the UK are entitled to receive, within two (2) months of hire, a written statement from their employer setting forth the terms and conditions of the employment. This statement is required for both fixed-term and indefinite contracts and must include the following information:

• the employee’s date of commencement of employment and the duration of the employment;
• job title and duties;
• amount of pay and pay intervals;
• place of employment;
• sick pay;
• normal hours of work;
• holidays;
• pension entitlement;
• grievance and disciplinary procedures;
• notice of termination requirements; and
• probationary period if applicable.

II. Wage and Hour

The National Minimum Wage Act of 1998 sets forth the minimum pay per hour almost all workers within the UK are entitled to by law. The minimum wage rate varies per age group up to the age of twenty-one (21), but for any employee over twenty-one (21) years of age, the minimum wage rate is currently £6.19 an hour.  The government is also set to publish consolidated and simplified National Minimum Wage Regulations in late April of 2013.
An employee’s standard number of working hours are the hours set forth in the employee’s particular employment contract. Typically, adult employees may not be required to work in excess of forty-eight (48) hours per week. Employers are not required to pay workers for overtime for hours worked in excess of that set forth in the employment contract but, the employees’ average pay for the total hours worked may not fall below the national minimum wage.

III.  Holiday Entitlement

Pursuant to the Working Time Regulations of 1998, almost all employees in the UK are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday time per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave).  Part-time workers are entitled to a pro-rata amount of holiday pay based upon the 5.6 weeks for full time employees.

IV.  Discrimination Laws

The primary legislation prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the UK is the Equality Act 2010. The law, which follows three major European Union Directives, strictly prohibits discrimination and harassment based upon a wide array of protected characteristics, including the following:

• age;
• disability;
• gender reassignment;
• marriage and civil partnership;
• pregnancy and maternity;
• race, ethnicity, national origin or skin color;
• religion or belief;
• sex;
• sexual orientation;
• part-time work;
• fixed-term work; and
• trade union membership activities.

The laws prohibiting discrimination apply to hiring, the terms and conditions of employment, training, promotions, terminations, and employee compensation.  The law also prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs if the reason for a person being treated less favorably than another employee is based upon the employee’s protected characteristic as defined by the law. Indirect discrimination refers to the situation when a particular employment policy adversely affects or disadvantages a group of employees who are of a particular protected characteristic as set out in the Act.
Other anti-discrimination legislation in the UK includes the Equal Pay Act of 1970, the Race Relations Act 1976, the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 and the Employment Equality Regulations relevant to sexual orientation and age.

V.  Maternity and Paternity Leave

Employees are entitled to twenty-six (26) weeks of maternity leave which is referred to as "Ordinary Maternity Leave" and can receive either maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay. Some employees are entitled to a longer period of leave, referred to as "Additional Maternity Leave" for another twenty-six (26) weeks for a total of fifty-two (52) weeks per year, if they satisfy certain qualifying conditions. It is unlawful to dismiss an employee for any reason related to her pregnancy. At the expiration of maternity leave, the employee is entitled to resume her normal job pursuant to the same terms and conditions which existed prior to the leave. However, in a redundancy situation or if there is some other genuine reason why the employee’s original position is no longer available at the expiration of the leave, the employee must be offered another suitable available position within the company.
Pursuant to the Revised Leave Directive, effective March 8, 2013, each parent is now also entitled to eighteen (18) weeks, instead of thirteen (13) weeks, of unpaid leave per child but limited to a maximum of four (4) weeks per year.  Some employers offer longer or more flexible leaves but they must offer at least the minimum amount of leave under the law.

VI.  Terminations

Employment contracts can be terminated for various reasons including expiration of the employment contract, termination by mutual agreement, death or retirement of the employee, dismissal of the employee, or due to a redundancy. Both the employee and employer are normally entitled to a minimum period of notice of termination of the employment relationship as set forth in the employee's employment agreement. The UK government is in the process of preparing a model template settlement agreement to be utilized when employers and employees wish to terminate the employment relationship and plans on introducing the template in the summer of 2013.

VII.  Redundancies

In the UK redundancies are implemented when employers determine that the company cannot afford to keep an employee and must terminate the employment. Long-term employees are entitled to compensation from their employers in the event they are made redundant and the law requires employers to act fairly when making redundancy decisions.  Specifically, the employer is required to send the employee a written statement explaining why the employer wants to implement the redundancy and hold a consultation meeting. If the employer plans on dismissing more than twenty (20) employees, it must have a group consultation; otherwise the employer may consult employees individually. The employer must always consult with the employees at least 30 days before the dismissal and give them or their representatives written information about the proposed number of dismissals, the effect dismissals will have on the company and alternatives to dismissal.

If the employer is proposing to implement one hundred (100) or more redundancies, effective April 6, 2013, there is now a forty-five (45) day minimum consultation period pursuant to the Trade Union and Labor Relations Consolidation Act. Prior to April 6th, there was a ninety (90) day minimum consultation period.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Fisher Phillips | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Fisher Phillips
Contact
more
less

Fisher Phillips on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.