Legal rights


This is a short guide to your legal rights depending on your employment status.


An employee has the legal right to:

  • a Written Statement – this must be provided within two months of beginning the employment
  • Maternity/Parternal Leave and Pay, Adoption Leave and Pay and Paternity Leave and Pay, Antenatal care
  • time off to care for dependants
  • request time off to undertake study or training is introduced for employees working in companies who have an average of 250+ employees  
  • protection against unfair dismissal
  • a fair disciplinary and dismissal policy
  • grievance procedure at work
  • Statutory Redundancy Pay
  • time off for public duties e.g. magistrate duties; for Trade Union activities
  • a Stakeholder pension (if the employer has more than 5 employees)
  • an itemised pay statement

plus those rights that a Worker has below

As of 1 October 2011, Agency workers in Great Britain have the right to 'equal treatment' in certain areas of their employment. It will give certain 'Agency workers' rights to equal treatment for  pay, working hours, night work, rest breaks, paid holidays; paid time off for ante-natal appointments; the right to apply for internal vacancies and access internal facilities; and give them limited unfair dismissal rights in relation to the Regulations.

NB: Often employers will give benefits/terms to employees that are more generous than the legal minimum entitlements.


A worker is entitled to core employment rights including the right to:

  • receive the National Minimum Wage
  • protection against unlawful deduction from wages
  • a minimum period of paid holiday (annual leave) under the Working Time Directive
  • minimum length of rest breaks under the Working Time Directive
  • not work more than 48 hours on average per week or to opt out of this right if you choose
  • protection against unlawful discrimination (including less favourable treatment on the grounds of part-time status)
  • protection for 'whistleblowing' (reporting wrongdoing in the workplace)
  • Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Pay (NB - not leave)
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • not be discriminated against unlawfully on grounds or race, sex, marriage/civil partnerships, maternity/pregnancy, disability, gender reassingment, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief and to receive equal pay (with members of the opposite sex if you can show they are doing similar work of equal value)
  • protection against discrimination for membership or non-membership of a Trade Union

Self-employed (freelancer)

They will not be entitled to:

  • company’s sick leave, company maternity pay or company pension provisions
  • the legal right to protection under internal disciplinary and grievance schemes
  • the legal right not be dismissed (however, the contract of service should contain clauses relating to termination of the agreement and time-periods)
  • statutory rights such as unfair dismissal and redundancy pay

There is, however, legal protection so:

  • they should not be discriminated against in the work place and, if they are, they could make a claim to an Employment Tribunal. This protection only applies to freelancers who fall under Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010 – that is those who are described as 'contract workers' and are contracted personally to do the work i.e. they cannot claim discrimination against the employer if they are contracted for the provision of services and hire someone else, or sub-contract someone else, to do the work – they must do the work themselves
  • they are entitled to a Safe and Healthy working environment (as above)
  • they should be paid for the work that they have done