When Your Rights Start

If you have the legal status of an 'employee' then you gain extra rights, but you may have to work for a qualifying period.

This means the rights do not start on your first day of your job, but only after you have had the same employer for a period of time. This section sets out the extra rights employees enjoy and how long you have to wait for them. You also still have all the workers' rights from day one.

Rights when you apply for a job

  • You should not be discriminated against in a job selection process on the grounds of your trade union membership, sex (including pregnancy/ maternity status), race (including nationality), disability, age, sexual orientation, religion/ belief (including lack thereof), or being transgender.

Rights from your first day at work

  • You should be given a written statement of particulars showing how much you earn and any deductions that will be made from your pay. (Some or all of the information required to be set out in a written statement of particulars may be contained in a contract of employment, rather than in a separate document).
  • You should be given a copy of (or easy access to) your employer’s discipline and grievance procedure.
  • You have the right to receive an itemised payslip listing gross wages, deductions and net wages.
  • You have a right not to have deductions (with some exceptions such as for tax) made from your pay unless your employer has the contractual power to make the deductions and you have agreed to them in advance.
  • If you are paying National Insurance contributions (applies to anyone earning over £112 per week (£113 from April 2017)), you can claim Statutory Sick Pay after you have been off sick for four days in a row.
  • You have the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of your trade union membership, sex (including pregnancy/ maternity status), race (including nationality), disability, age, sexual orientation, religion/ belief (including lack thereof), marital or civil partnership status, or being transgender.
  • You have the right to ask for reasonable adjustments if you have a disability.
  • You have a right to equal pay with members of the opposite sex doing the same job, a similar job, or a job of equal value to you.
  • You are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, even if you were pregnant when you started the job.
  • You have the right to 52 weeks’ adoption leave.
  • You can have time off for medical appointments if you are pregnant.
  • You can take unpaid time off to go to two antenatal appointments with your partner.
  • You have rights to time off, paid and unpaid, for adoption appointments.
  • You can take unpaid leave to deal with unexpected emergencies involving family members or people who rely on you for their care.
  • You have the right for your trade union to be recognised by the employer to negotiate your working conditions if at least 10% of the people in your department/ workplace are members of that union and the union can show that the majority of employees in that department/ workplace are likely to support it being formally recognised.
  • You have the right to take a trade union representative or fellow worker into a disciplinary or grievance hearing.
  • You can claim wrongful dismissal if your employer sacks you without giving you the agreed notice.
  • Although you need more service before you are able to claim general unfair dismissal, you can already complain about dismissal on certain grounds (e.g. dismissal for whistleblowing, or on the basis of a protected characteristic such as your race or trade union activities).
  • If you are dismissed when pregnant or when taking maternity or adoption leave, you have the right to written reasons for your dismissal, whether or not you ask for them.
  • You have a right not to be unfairly dismissed for your political views.

Rights after a month

  • You must be given one week's notice of dismissal (or more, if your contract entitles you to longer notice).
  • You must be paid if you are suspended on medical grounds.
  • You must be paid statutory lay off pay if you are laid off (this is where your employer has asked you to work for at least a day less per week than usual).

Rights after eight weeks

  • You are entitled to a written statement of your terms of employment which must include your pay, hours, where you are expected to work, holidays and other benefits such as a pension entitlement.

Rights after two years' service

  • Once you have been working for two full years, you can claim unfair dismissal in the employment tribunal.
  • If your employer dismisses you just before you have worked the full two years needed to claim unfair dismissal, an employment tribunal will add to your service the statutory notice your employer should have given you (unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct). This is to stop employers deliberately cutting short your notice to prevent you from bringing a claim.
  • You can claim statutory redundancy pay if you are dismissed due to redundancy. The amount of redundancy pay due depends on your age, your pay and your length of service. There is a statutory cap on the amount paid that normally changes every year.
  • You have a right, on request, to written reasons for your dismissal. If you were dismissed because of pregnancy, maternity or childbirth, you have this right from day one of your employment, whether or not you make a request.

The time limits for bringing claims in the employment tribunal are very short and very strict.

Before bringing a tribunal claim, you must fill out an Early Conciliation Notification Form and send it to Acas.

You can find information from Acas explaining how Acas early conciliation works. Acas early conciliation is free of charge.

Unless you take this first step within the time limit for bringing your tribunal claim, you will not be allowed to bring it.

There is no longer a fee to access an employment tribunal, as of July 2017, when a union-backed case at the Supreme Court ruled charging for access to tribunals was unlawful. You will no longer need to pay a fee up front or seek "help with fees" as had previously been the case.

If you have difficulty following the process, you should seek help by, for example, contacting your union or making an appointment as soon as possible at your local Citizens Advice. Don't leave it to the last minute. Make sure you allow enough time to make your application to the tribunal within the time limit.

For more information about the steps involved in bringing a tribunal claim, including information about Acas Early Conciliation, see our Enforcing Your Rights section.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.