Quick guide to basic employment rights

Here's a quick guide to your employees' basic rights.

All employees are entitled from day one to:

  • A statement showing how much they earn and any deductions made from your pay, when they will be paid and the method of payment
  • Not have deductions made from pay unless they have agreed to them
  • The national minimum wage
  • Working time rights (including paid holiday)
  • Equal pay with members of the opposite sex doing the same or a comparable job not to be discriminated against for reasons of your sex, race or any disability, or for being a member of a trade union
  • Work in a place which is safe
  • Time off for trade union duties and activities
  • The right to paid time off for ante natal care
  • The right to reasonable time off to look after dependants in an emergency.

After one month:

  • If you want to dismiss an employee, you have to give them at least one week's notice of dismissal.

After two months:

After 26 weeks employees have:

  • The right to ask for flexible working
  • The right to ask for unpaid time off for training (only in organisations with 250+ employees)
  • The right to maternity, paternity or adoption leave and pay, if the employee has worked for you for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due. Read more on parental leave following the birth of a child and new shared parental leave measures.

After one year employees have:

  • The right to take unpaid parental leave
  • The right to written reasons for dismissal.

After two years employees have:

  • The right to paid time off to look for work if being made redundant. This applies once the employee has worked for two years for that employer
  • The right to claim redundancy pay if made redundant
  • The right to claim compensation if unfairly dismissed.

From 1 October 2011, agency workers who have worked for a company for more than 12 weeks will have the right to the same basic employment rights and working conditions as permanent employees. Find out more about agency worker regulations.

In addition, part time and fixed term workers should have the same contractual rights (pro-rata) as a comparable full time or permanent employee.

For comprehensive employment and HR advice, join the Forum – call us on 0845 130 1722 to find out how we can help you navigate your way through the employment process.


If you employ staff, it is important to know what your obligations are to them. Some rights, for example for unfair dismissal and redundancy pay, are built up over a period of time, but others are effective from day one or very early on in the employment relationship.