Employment laws are not always given the prominence they should, but they have evolved and been instituted in order to assist you day to day in the workplace. With their goals ranging from protecting you against discrimination to ensuring your personal safety, they are essential in providing a safe and equitable workplace for everyone. The main laws that protect workers are statutory rights, passed by Parliament. These five important rights are established by law.

1) The Right to Paid Maternal Leave
This protection is an important consideration for anyone contemplating starting a family. The times where an employer could decide to not employ a woman because she might possibly become pregnant is long over. For the first 26 weeks of maternity leave, it is considered ordinary medical leave, and your rights and contract terms remain unchanged. This can be extended to 52 total weeks if taken continuously. Your pay will, however, depend on your contract. The benefit this affords is that there is no need to choose between home life and career.

2 The Right to Paid Holidays
Full-time workers are entitled to 28 days, or 5.6 weeks, of paid holidays per annum. While this sounds like a nice thing to have rather than an essential requirement, it is very useful for being able to mitigate the effects of stress. Naturally, it requires taking into account the needs of the business and staffing levels. Part-time workers have the same entitlement pro rata. Some employers offer more generous packages, but this is not statutory.

3) The Right to Have a Written Statement of Terms of Employment
The main point about this right is that it makes everything above board. You and the employer know what the requirements of the job are, your duties, and how you are going to be compensated for your work. It allows for clarity and the ability to negotiate positions. Your right to be presented with a written statement or employment contract specifies that it must be completed within two months of commencing work.

4) The Right to Have Full Health and Safety
While health and safety is often the subject of scorn in comedy routines and from figures on the right, it is still an important level of protection. Depending on where the person works, the risks are different, but everywhere contains risk. This right ensures that the employer has a duty of care towards their employees, and makes the workplace as safe as possible. It also provides a level of accountability that the employer will have to live up to.

5) The Right to Not Suffer from Harassment or Discrimination
The right not to experience discrimination and harassment is a vital and fundamental right that is essential in a modern society. Sex, orientation, religion, disabilities, and age are no longer criteria that one can use to justify differing treatment or denial of opportunities. It allows the workplace to utilise the best possible talents, increase diversity, and also helps to eliminate the idea of unfairness. It is progressive and a positive move for the British workforce. Should employers ask about your personal details you do not have to answer, and they cannot use it in selection criteria in most cases.

The rights of a worker are enshrined in law. While these five protections are important, they are only a small sample of the legal protections available to today’s workers. It is always a good idea to know your own rights and the law that underlies them. If there is a union representative at your work, they can help, or an employment lawyer, or the Citizens Advice Bureau. Don’t be afraid to reinforce your rights, and require them to be acknowledged by your employer.