Workers/Employees Rights

"Minimum Wage, Annual Leave Entitlement, Maternity/Paternity, Flexible Working ..."

Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice – you must be at least school leaving rate to get it.           





21    and over



18    to 20



Under    18

























*This rate is for apprentices under 19 or those in the first year of their apprenticeship.

The National minimum wage changes yearly so Employers should ensure they are up to date with this, especially if any Employees or workers are either on or close to the minimum wage.

The Government’s revised ‘NMW naming scheme’ came into effect in October 2013, and stripped back restrictions, making it simpler for the Government to name employers who break the law in this area. This would obviously be bad publicity for any company, but is easily avoidable.

Annual Leave

Almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year (known as statutory leave entitlement or annual leave). An employer can include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.

If a worker works on a part time basis they will be entitled to this statutory minimum, on a pro-rata basis.

You must ensure that workers are getting at least the Statutory Minimum to avoid possible claims in this area, against your company.

Maternity Leave

An employee will qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if:

  • They are an employee (and not a ‘worker’) and
  • They give their employer the correct notice

It doesn’t matter how long the employee has been with the employer, how many hours they work or how much they get paid.

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:

  • ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ (first 26 weeks)
  • ‘Additional Maternity Leave’ (last 26 weeks)

An Employee does not have to take 52 weeks but they must take 2 weeks’ leave after their baby is born (or 4 weeks if they work in a factory).

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid for up to 39 weeks. The Employee will get:

  • 90% of their average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6      weeks
  • £136.78 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower)      for the next 33 weeks

SMP is paid in the same way as wages (e.g. monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

Employment rights are protected while on Statutory Maternity Leave. This includes rights to:

  • pay rises
  • build up (accrue) holiday
  • return to work

It is vital that an Employer adheres to this or they risk a claim being brought against the company for Sex Discrimination; which can cost the company a considerable amount of time and money.

Paternity Leave

When someone takes time off because their partner is having a baby or adopting a child they might be eligible for:

  • 1 or 2 weeks paid Ordinary Paternity Leave
  • up to 26 weeks’ paid Additional Paternity Leave – but only if the mother / co-adopter returns to work

Employment rights are protected whilst on Paternity Leave, in the same way they are when on Maternity Leave

When returning to work after Maternity Leave, the employee has various rights and responsibilities –

When returning to work after Ordinary Maternity Leave (the first 26 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave), the employee has a right to the same job and the same terms and conditions as if they hadn’t been away.

This also applies when they come back after Additional Maternity Leave (the last 26 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave). However, if the employer shows it is not reasonably practical for them to return to their original job (for example, because the job no longer exists) the employee does not have the same right. In that case, they must be offered alternative work, with the same terms and conditions as if they hadn’t been away.

Upon return from Maternity Leave, an Employer must remember that an Employee who has a child under seventeen or a disabled child under eighteen is entitled to request a flexible working pattern. This can help them balance caring for their child and work. The employer must consider the request and respond in writing.

Once again, note: failure to properly consider such a request or a failure to provide adequate reasons why the request cannot be implemented could lead to a Discrimination claim being made against the company in the Employment Tribunal.

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