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As we spend so much of our time at work, it’s important that we know our employment rights.

Firstly, you need to know whether you are classed as a worker, an employee or self-employed. This will affect your employment rights. For example, someone who is classed as an employee has additional employment rights and responsibilities that don’t apply to those who are defined as workers.

If you're not sure, visit the next page for more information on employment status. You could also contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), which runs a free helpline that can answer questions about employment rights and employment status.

Overview of your basic rights at work (including sick pay and working hours)

All workers and employees are entitled to:

  • the National Minimum Wage
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • the statutory minimum level of paid holiday – 28 days paid leave for full-time workers (this can include bank holidays)
  • the legal minimum length of rest breaks – a minimum of 20 minutes uninterrupted if someone works over 6 hours a day
  • not work more than 48 hours on average per week, unless they choose to opt out of this right
  • protection against unlawful discrimination
  • protection for ‘whistleblowing’ - reporting wrongdoing in the workplace
  • not be treated less favourably if they work part-time

Employees are also entitled to:

  • Statutory Sick Pay - £89.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work, paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks
  • statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and pay
  • minimum notice periods if their employment will be ending, such as if an employer is dismissing them
  • protection against unfair dismissal
  • the right to request flexible working
  • time off for emergencies
  • Statutory Redundancy Pay

Workers may be entitled to:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Shared Parental Pay

Working hours and annual leave

Your employer can’t force you to work more than 48 hours in a week, and you are entitled to one whole day off a week. You must receive 11 hours of rest between each working day, and you’re entitled to a 20-minute rest break if you work for more than 6 hours at a stretch.

Employees are entitled to 28 days of annual leave (which can include bank and public holidays) if you’re working full-time, and the same level of holiday pro-rata if you’re part-time, i.e. 14 days of annual leave if you work 2.5 days a week.

See also: your right to request flexible working

Sick Pay

There is now no upper age limit for payment of Statutory Sick Pay. Once you have been ill for more than four days, you are entitled to SSP for up to 28 weeks, provided you earn above a certain amount per week. In reality, most employers will pay more than they are legally required to, but SSP is an important safeguard. After 28 weeks, SSP will end and you will need to claim either Employment and Support Allowance (if you are under State Pension age) or your State Pension.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174

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