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UK Employment Law: Principles, Procedures & Rights Explained

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Introduction - Understanding UK Employment Law

Employment law is an area of practice that deals with everything related to working time, workplace justice and employee rights. In the UK, most “employment law” is segmented between “private law” and “civil law” based on the enforcement circumstances and results of the incidents that take place in the workplace. The present report discusses the “employment law” of the UK in relation to all the legal procedures that are followed in the workplaces of the UK. The report aims to provide a detailed insight on the right way to recruit, select, manage change and reorganise with lawful procedures in the workplaces of the UK. Additionally, the report outlines the way all the issues regarding pay-time and working time can be dealt with lawfully in the UK.

1. The purpose and enforcement of employment regulation

1.1 Evaluation of the aims and objectives of employment law

“Employment law” in the UK is commonly used by the claimants in court during the “tribunal system”, especially when the claimants face legal issues with the respondents caused by some kind of “detriment” by one party. The “employment laws” in the UK are applied to over 4 million “limited companies” in the country along with over 21 million active full-time employees working in those companies (Citation.co.uk, 2022). The primary aim of the “employment laws” in the UK is to tenure the lawful protection of both the “employer and the employee” under the supervision of the legal system of the UK. It also aims to protect the “rights of the workers” with the legislation regarding “dismissal”, “discrimination”, “holidays”, “pay” and many more (Citation.co.uk, 2022). The “employment laws” of the UK safeguard the interests of the employers by keeping the process of recruitment as well as selection lawful and fair in both ways.

The primary objective of the “UK employment law” is to protect the “rights and responsibilities” of all the workers in the UK. According to the employment laws, all employees and employers are safeguarded by proper laws and regulations that ensure their safety and security against any form of discrimination or unfair dismissal (De Groen et al. 2018). For example, when individuals are charged with false allegations and are dismissed by an organization, then it is their fundamental employment right to challenge the decision and verify the proper reason for the dismissal. The “employment laws” in the UK also protect employees from any form of inequalities faced by them regarding their “race”, “sexual orientation”, “religion”, “disability”, “maternity and pregnancy”, “marriage” and “gender reassignment” with the “Equality Act 2010”.

The “UK employment laws” incorporate a few other legislations like the “Employment Relations Act 1999”, “Employment Rights Act 1996”, “National Minimum Wage Act 1998”, and "Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999”. With the help of these acts and regulations, the “employment laws” controls the lawfulness of workplace ethics in the UK. It also aims to cover the “health and safety” of the workers in the workplace with the help of the “Health and Safety at Work Act 1974” (Woodfines.co.uk, 2022). The “employment law” in the UK also intends to deal with other areas of employment like “protection of employee data”, “employment contracts between the employer and the employee” and the “interest protection in business”.

1.2 Role of the court system and tribunal system while enforcing employment law

The primary role of the “tribunal systems” during the enforcement of the “employment law” is to ensure that all the cases brought in court are being judged in a consistent and fair manner. The court has to value both the evidence of the employer and the employee equally for delivering an unbiased opinion regarding the case. In UK employment law, a tribunal or chamber president is mostly responsible for simplifying the “two-tier structure” of judging a case and delivering social justice to the applicants (Brayne and Christin, 2021). The court here segments the process of the trial between “tribunal judges” and “tribunal members” while making the correct decision regarding a particular case brought to the court. In most cases, the “employee tribunals” deals with the “claims of an employee against the employer” in the UK. The allegations under the radar of “tribunal systems” also include “wage deduction”, “equal pay”, “wrongful dismissal”, “workplace discrimination” and many more (Lancee, 2021).

The "tribunal system" and the "court system" of the UK respond to certain cases by checking the “time limits” of the claim after it is brought to the court by the employer or the employees. The “tribunal system” in the UK functions on other tasks like “logging the claims of both the parties”, “sending a copy of the case to the ACAS” and “sending the case details to the respondents” for further verification of the case (Adams and Prassl, 2018). Another role of the “tribunal system” is to ensure that the appeals are following the “employer’s own procedures”. It also covers all the contracting areas that are used for voluntary early conciliation, especially while resolving the disputes of the “tribunal claims”. The “tribunal system,” also functions in terms of providing a “conciliation certificate” that can ensure ACAS about the agreed settlement within the tribunal claim.

The hierarchy of courts in the UK regarding the “tribunal systems” is segmented into three courts, “the employment tribunal”, “the country court” and “the High Court”. Additionally, when the cases are not judged properly in the “High Court” then the employees can issue a “court of appeal” in the Supreme Court of the UK, especially in the “civil division” of the court to deal with issues properly (Atkinson, 2022). The “country court” in the UK is also supported by the “magistrates’ courts” in certain cases, especially when there are complications in the “civil division” of the “tribunal system”.

1.3 The process of case settlement before and during formal legal procedures

In the UK employment law, “settlement or compromise” is a legal step that occurs when both parties come to a “binding agreement” for a lawful resolution of the disputes. This process is commonly called the “case settlement” where two parties come into an agreement and resolve their issues internally with lawful procedures. The settlement can be in an “oral form” as in a “documented form” for avoiding satellite disputes in terms of the case settlement (Railton et al. 2022). In the UK, settlement can be achieved either through “direct negotiations” or via “mediation”. In cases where the “employment law” is applied between the employer and the employee, “mediation” appears as the most successful alternative of case settlement that can be used to resolve the issues successfully (Mason et al. 2022). The settlement process follows a series of steps, especially during the mediation process between two people working on the same case. The five stages of conducting a “civil mediation are:

  • Stage 1: “Convening the mediation”
  • Stage 2: “The opening session”
  • Stage 3: “Communication between the prosecution and the defence”
  • Stage 4: “The negotiation”
  • Stage 5: “Closure of the case”

The above steps are commonly followed during case settlements in the UK, especially in cases where both the parties are willing to resolve the cases through mediation by the court. The process of mediation can be divided into three types based on the style of mediation by the accuser and the defendant (Gogoi et al. 2021). First, there is “evaluative mediation” where the negotiation is conducted after a detailed evaluation of the cases. Then, there is “facilitative mediation” where the parties are facilitated based on the facts of the case. The final style is the “transformative mediation” where both the parties involved in the case need to be mutually recognised based on their urge for empowerment in the case.

In the process of court settlement, “independent legal advice” plays a major role by providing an objective review of all the “submitted legal documents”. It further allows the clients as well as the court to develop a detailed insight into the meticulous details of the case. The “independent legal advice” also ensures that the client is not being pressurized during the settlement (Kischel, 2019). This allows the independent advice to guarantee the utmost transparency of the trial without any form of undue influence or duress. In simple words, it helps in maintaining the authenticity of the “case settlement” with the consent of both parties involved in the case.

2. The ways to manage the lawful selection and recruitment activities

2.1 The principles of discrimination law in selection, recruitment and employment

Recruitment and selection in the UK follow a series of principles in order to include people in the workplace with utmost authenticity and lawful transparency. Similarly, any form of discrimination in the workplace is strictly prohibited in workplaces in the UK due to the active involvement of the “employment law” in the recruitment, selection and employment of workers in the workplace. The workplaces in the UK are protected by the “Equality Act 2010” which restricts all forms of discrimination against workers based on their “race”, “sexual orientation”, “ethnicity” or “age”. Therefore, according to the principles of “discrimination law”, no employer should select a particular person for “redundancy” while creating a workforce (Bayrakdar and King, 2022). Similarly, no people in the workforce should be treated harshly due to their distinctive “age”, “sex”, “gender”, “race” or “ethnicity” while working within an organizational infrastructure. Additionally, one should not be treated less favourably than others due to their personal characteristics according to the principles of the “discrimination law” in the UK.

Discrimination can be both ways, especially while recruiting or selecting workforces in an organizational environment. In this scenario, “not hiring someone” or “rejecting someone without any proper justification” can also be major discrimination from the employer’s end (Gov.uk, 2022). In addition, the principles of “discrimination law” ensure that people within the same workplace should be paid the same wages as the others. In this circumstance, no one should be paid less than other workers without any proper reason (Gov.uk, 2022). According to the principles of the discrimination laws, any form of discrimination should not take place within a workplace as it can indirectly affect the working condition of the whole workplace if the rules are not maintained well.

2.2 Discussion on the legal requirements of equal pay

The “Equality Act 2010” in the UK provides both men and women with the right to get equally paid for equal work in the workplace. According to the provision of this act, every working man and woman should be treated equally as well as they should be get paid equally as they are legally entitled to be paid at the same rate for the same amount of work. So, the preliminary principle of “equal pay” is to ensure that regardless of gender, every working individual should be paid with equal monetary amounts and equal values in order to implement equal pay (Adamovic, 2022). In some of the cases in the UK, the principles of “equal pay” were challenged and some faced discrimination regarding their minimum wages in the workplace.

As an example, in the case between Lawrence and Regent Office Care Ltd [2003], the principles of “equal pay” were exemplified and eventually the “European Court of Justice” was held for resolving this case mutually (Swarb.co.uk, 2022). A similar instance can be spotted in the landmark case between Wilson and Health & Safety Executive [2009] where the courts subsequently proliferated due to the magnitude of litigation within the court of justice in the UK. In both cases, the “Court of Appeal” considered “employment tribunals” for the general rules of equal pay (Xperthr.co.uk, 2022). Under these provisions, the cases were justified in defeating the claims of equal pay from the employers. Therefore, the “Equality Act 2010” ensured that employees in the workplace are getting paid for the same amount of work regardless of their “gender”, “race”, “sexual orientation” or “ethnicity” in the UK.

3. Lawful management of reorganisation and change

3.1 Legal implications while managing changes

Some employees accept the change openly while thinking about the positive effects and role in the workplace. Gradually, not everyone can accept any changes in the lawful technique of modifying the employment agreement between the employee and employer. The majority part of employees believes that modification in the employment contract with the employer will affect their duties and right. Moreover, changes in the contract will redesign the activities and authorities of the employment contract and result in affecting the negotiation which was constructed during the establishment of the contract. The “collective agreement” made by the two parties is subject to considering the negotiation and agreement between the staff association and the employer (Nidirect.gov.uk, 2022). The followings are the suitable reasons that come in place depending on some of the requirements or activities.

  • Changes in the rate for payment for the employees
  • Alternation in the working period and modification in the shift timings, holidays
  • Modifications in the duties and job roles with new positions
  • Modification of the present work locations
  • Any change related to the reporting person

Correction in the contract developed by the employers is a subject to justify based on the placement of the employees in different job roles or positions. Before making any changes to the signed contract, the employer needs to ensure that the “statutory employment rights” will not get hampered. Additionally, the employee is not getting any external pressure to make changes in the contract. The “Modern Slavery Act 2015” made sure that no employer can deal with human trafficking applications in the workplace and force employees to make changes in the contract (Wageindicator.co.uk, 2022). Additionally, employees have the legal right to quit jobs and no provision in the legislative system in the UK can restrict an employee to do that.

Process of changing the agreement

Any modification in a signed agreement is subject to having agreed upon by both parties- the employer and the employee before taking it in place. However, an employee can insist on the construction of the agreement modification based on the provision as a legal right. The legal right of employees regards the justifications on the signed contract. The followings are the responsibilities of employers and employees in placing changes in the contract.

The employer needs to negotiate with the staff association regarding the changes in the contract. While discussing employer’s duty is to listen to the alternative proposed by the association and explain the need to place the changes in the contract (Gov.uk, 2022). On the other hand, employees have the right to maintain the “statutory rights” before modification of the contract. An employer cannot dismiss an employee before the end of the contract period, which is a matter an “unfair dismissal” and it can lead to financial compensation (Fazilah et al. 2019). Gender discrimination in the workplace is not a tolerable factor in the UK.

Redundancy

In the situation, where a certain amount of jobs are no longer demanded in the workplace, and an employer decreases the workforce is the “redundancy in the employment law” (Aylott, 2022). Sometimes, this type of circumstance arises as the employer requires to control the expenditure due to different situations and it affects the employment growth of a nation. In the practical example, the application of AI and machine learning is forcing redundancy by replacing the manual work process in different manufacturing units.

3.2 Legal requirements for transfers of understandings

Business takeovers in the UK are subject to protecting the rights of the employees with the “Transfer of Undertakings Regulation 2006”. Often the transfer of employment makes different situations where the “statutory employment rights” get impacted due to the different terms and condition which is being followed by the new employers. The legislative actions of the UK employment focus on the maintenance of the old terms and conditions. The new employer after the acquisition needs to ensure that gender discrimination does not happen in the workplace.

About the “Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment” (TUPE)

TUPE comes into action when an organisation get transferred the ownership to another employer and the employees get transferred to the new employer. The employees will work continuously work for the new employers. During the TUPE transformation employees will work for the transferred employer (Acas.org.uk, 2022). The contracts cannot be dismissed after the TUPE by the new employer and information received about the workers need to be kept secret as per the “General Data Protection Act, 2018”. Employees have the right to renegotiate the terms and conditions with the new employers after the TUPE transfer.

Employee association can file a lawsuit if the new employer is not able to manage the terms and conditions after the transformation of the company. It is believed that the new employer should take care of the old terms and conditions according to the signed contract in the past with the employees. Redundancies can be declared as unfair practices for the new employer after TUPE. There are different legislative actions available based on the breaches of employment rights (Cipd.co.uk, 2022). Employees cannot claim anything against the “unfair dismissal” on the TUPE. A similar kind of circumstance has been witnessed in the case between McTear Contracts Ltd and Bennett [2021] is the relevant instance of the TUPE case formed in the UK. The primary issue of this case was the formation of redundancy in the workplace after the undertaking of a company. “Employment Appeal Tribunal” (EAT) documented that workers who are committed to services that are handled over by considerable new service providers can maintain their agreements of employment assigned to numerous new employers beneath the TUPE law. Legal provision is allowed by the employees as claimable depending on the type of transfer that happened to the new employer such as the number of assets and liabilities (McMullen, 2021). This is can be subject to justification in court.

4. The lawful ways to manage issues with working and pay time 1000

4.1 Major workers’ statutory rights relating to pay

An employee has some defined rights to get paid in different situations and has the legal rights to get paid for the service or performance. The national government can declare the “statutory rights” of the workers according to the “employment law”. These laws are designated to protect the workers in the workplace and give them a sustainable environment. The regulation of the “statutory rights” ensures that the employees will get paid based on the “National Minimum Wage” in the UK. The “international social policy” has a special provenance in the legislation of the UK. Working hours and the right to apply for leave can be regarded as the special provenance of the legislative system in the UK (Kvande and Brandth, 2019). Moreover, gender discrimination is one of the “statutory rights” of the employees.

Another essential part of the law states that employers need to follow the “Statutory sick pay (SSP)” which is a national scheme that ensures that an employee will get paid at least the basic amount of remuneration during the absence due to any sickness. The “Government of the UK” has designated “paid sick leave” as a mandatory action in the workplace (Harrop, 2021). An employer is liable to pay SSP for 4 days and can ask for evidence of sickness as medical documents if the employee is absent in the workplace for 7 days.

According to the “statutory rights”, the workers have the rights to the followings:

  • The information about the contract should be delivered in a written format
  • Payslip and documents need to be mentioned from the employee’s “date of joining”
  • Parental leaves should be paid as “paternity and maternity leaves”.
  • Employers need to ensure the application of the " Health and Safety at Work Act 1947” in the workplace
  • A notice period of at least one month needs to be served before dismissal.
  • Compensation should be against “unfair dismissal” especially when an employer is serving the organisation for the past 2 years (Companywizard.co.uk, 2022).
  • An individual can work until 65 years old without any discrimination if the employee is capable to work in the employed position.

4.2 Major statutory rights regarding working and leave time

The limitation of the 48 hours per week was decided on “international labour standards, Conventions Nos. 1 and 30”. The primary reason for the concern frequent rate and the “formal employment” are under the act of minimum working hours (Messenger, 2018). Based on the employment contract, one can manage to work overtime and get extra allowances in form of monetary. Employers are reliable to deliver a safe working environment and flexible working duty to the employees. The disability of an employee is a subject to justify the allowances and remuneration by the employer.

An employee has the right to receive at least 28 days of leave each year. For the full-time employees, 5 working days in a week is a standard “statutory right”. The “Government of the UK” has the listed holiday published every year, and obeying the national holiday is reliable for all employers in the UK. Employers have the right to choose the banking holiday to replace them with paid leaves. However, based on the working type in different shifts and based on the contract. Employees who are getting 28 annual leaves carry forward up to 8 leaves in a year (Williamson, 2019). The “Medical Leave Act” is one of the leave allowances for employees. Leave rights are usual for women to provide “unpaid leave”.

4.3 Principles of adoption, paternity and maternity in relation to employment rights

Persons with disabilities can occur in the positions of the “minority stakeholder” for an organisation. Different labour acts specified the leaves in the situations of sickness when an employee is not feeling well to continue the work. Different organisations permit yearly sick leaves to the employees. In the UK, “People with Disabilities” (PWDs) are an integrated part of the working industries' exposure to delivering leave as a “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) factor. PWD is generally adapted by organisations to form the managerial policies that are applied in the working structure (Khan et al. 2019). The gap in the “employment rate” varied up to 40% in the UK.

“Parental leave” policies

The paid leave allowances from the organisations to deliver legislation to the new parents to take leave during the pregnancy, birth, adoption and illness or required care for the child. Both mother and father of a newborn can have parental leave by submitting the legal medical documents to the employer within the UK. “Parental leave” is helpful to get the required treatment for childcare and self-care for pregnant mothers (Williamson, 2019). Based on the leave guidelines issued by the “UK government”, fathers of a newborn baby can take “Paternity leave” which can be up to 7 days and mothers can take up to 3 months of “Maternity leave”.

4.4 Employment rights regarding flexible working

On average, the gradual period of the working hours was decided as “2500 to 3000 hours per year” in the year 1900, based on the “statutory rights” for employees. The working hour per week becomes the organisational rule for the rights of the employees. Currently, no employers in the UK can force the employees to work more than 48 hours weekly. The “UK government” fixes the number of holidays and leaves.

Besides having a less working time while being present in physically on the office ground, the professionals are required to be paid parental leave as well. In accordance with the culture of the United Kingdom, after having children, both the parents need to take care of the younger member of the family (Dobroti? and Blum, 2020). In such cases, a working employee can ask for the non-paid leave to the company. This consecutive leave will help the parents to sent time with the younger and new born member of the family without being worried about the work stress. Therefore, the reliability between company and the employee will be ber in further days. Based on this, the organisation may include the rights of accessibility of parental leave to offer a great understanding of the emotional need of a worker who is especially a parent at a time.

In addition, the organisation can include the rights regarding unpaid time off of for the employees. This particular right will help the employees to be present at the time of any emergency requirement (Ardon et al. 2021). In such cases, the professionals of the organisations of the United Kingdom can bank on the good infrastructure and cultural management of the organisation as the employees will be able to support the families while serving the organisation at a time.

Conclusion

Conclusively, the UK has no written constitution but different legislative actions regarding the employment act. Different guidelines regarding workplace safety are often placed by the “Government of the UK” to protect the citizens. Based on the guidelines, “Employment Rights Act 1996” is delivering different legislative actions that are covering different situations in the favour of employees such as “paternity leave”, “unfair dismissal”, forcefully changes in the agreement, gender and age discrimination, and redundancy also. Equal pay is one of the gradual acts for the employees in delivering actions for the employer. Moreover, the citizens in the UK can get protection from employers by the application of the legislation of minimum remunerations. Employees feel protected in the work environment and safe from the hazardous actions by the employers by the employment acts in the UK.

References

Books

Adams, A. and Prassl, J., 2018. Zero-hours work in the United Kingdom. International Labour Office, Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch.

Aylott, E., 2022. Employment Law: A Practical Introduction (Vol. 21). Kogan Page Publishers.

Kischel, U., 2019. Comparative law. Oxford University Press.

Journals

Adamovic, M., 2022. When ethnic discrimination in recruitment is likely to occur and how to reduce it: Applying a contingency perspective to review resume studies. Human Resource Management Review, 32(2), p.100832.

Ardon, O., Reuter, V.E., Hameed, M., Corsale, L., Manzo, A., Sirintrapun, S.J., Ntiamoah, P., Stamelos, E., Schueffler, P.J., England, C. and Klimstra, D.S., 2021. Digital pathology operations at an NYC Tertiary Cancer Center during the first 4 months of COVID-19 pandemic response. Academic Pathology, 8, p.23742895211010276.

Atkinson, J., 2022. Zero-hours contracts and English employment Law: Developments and possibilities. European Labour Law Journal, p.20319525221104165.

Bayrakdar, S. and King, A., 2022. Job satisfaction and sexual orientation in Britain. Work, Employment and Society, 36(1), pp.21-39.

Brayne, S. and Christin, A., 2021. Technologies of crime prediction: The reception of algorithms in policing and criminal courts. Social Problems, 68(3), pp.608-624.

De Groen, W.P., Kilhoffer, Z., Lenaerts, K. and Mandl, I., 2018. Employment and working conditions of selected types of platform work.

Dobroti?, I. and Blum, S., 2020. Inclusiveness of parental-leave benefits in twenty-one European countries: Measuring social and gender inequalities in leave eligibility. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 27(3), pp.588-614.

Fazilah, S., Mohamad, A.A.A. and Hamid, Z.A., 2019. Monetary compensation as a remedy for unfair dismissal: a study in the United Kingdom and Malaysia. IIUM Law Journal, 27(2), pp.447-468.

Gogoi, M., Reed-Berendt, R., Al-Oraibi, A., Hassan, O., Wobi, F., Gupta, A., Abubakar, I., Dove, E.S., Nellums, L.B. and Pareek, M., 2021. Ethnicity and COVID-19 outcomes among healthcare workers in the United Kingdom: UK-REACH ethico-legal research, qualitative research on healthcare workers’ experiences, and stakeholder engagement protocol. medRxiv.

Harrop, A., 2021. STATUTORY SICK PAY: OPTIONS FOR REFORM.

Khan, N., Korac?Kakabadse, N., Skouloudis, A. and Dimopoulos, A., 2019. Diversity in the workplace: An overview of disability employment disclosures among UK firms. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 26(1), pp.170-185.

Kvande, E. and Brandth, B., 2019. Designing parental leave for fathers–promoting gender equality in working life. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 40(5/6), pp.465-477.

Lancee, B., 2021. Ethnic discrimination in hiring: comparing groups across contexts. Results from a cross-national field experiment. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 47(6), pp.1181-1200.

Mason, K., Cocker, C. and Hafford-Letchfield, T., 2022. Sexuality and religion: From the court of appeal to the social work classroom. Social work education, 41(1), pp.77-89.

McMullen, J., 2021. Leaving a Legacy: Recent Jurisprudence of the European Court on Transfer of Undertakings. Industrial Law Journal, 50(1), pp.130-157.

Messenger, J., 2018. Working time and the future of work. ILO future of work research paper series, 6(8), pp.33-37.

Railton, C., Jefferson, L. and Taylor, J., 2022. A Qualitative Study to Explore the Employment Experiences and Perspectives of Women Living with Multiple Sclerosis in the UK. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, pp.1-26.

Williamson, M.W., 2019. The Meaning of Leave: Understanding Workplace Leave Rights. NYUJ Legis. & Pub. Pol'y, 22, p.197.

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