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Managing People - Employment Legislation

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

People - Legislation affecting employment

Equal pay and minimum wage laws

The basic rule that a start-up business has to remember is that:

Men and women are entitled to equal pay for work of equal value

Looking at that rule in a little more detail:

  • “Pay” includes everything in the employment contract - bonuses and pension contributions, as well as basic wages or salary
  • Workers have the right to ask their employer for information to check equality – using the equal pay questionnaire
  • If employees believe their pay is unequal, they can take the employer to an Employment Tribunal

The right of employees to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is also protected by legislation. It makes no difference when a worker is paid (monthly, weekly, daily, hourly) - the NMW still applies.
The NMW is reviewed and usually changed every year. The current rates are shown here:

Discrimination

Discrimination is the treatment in an unacceptable way of anyone who is termed to be different.  In the UK, it is illegal for an employer to discrimination against an employee on the basis of:

  • Sex, including pregnancy and maternity
  • Marital / civil partnership status
  • A person's disability
  • Race
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion/belief
  • Trade union membership or non-membership
  • Status as a fixed-term or part-time worker

Discrimination laws apply in many areas of employing staff - i.e.

  • Recruitment
  • Employee contract - terms and conditions
  • Promotions and transfers 
  • Providing training
  • Deciding what fringe benefits employees receive
  • Employee dismissal 

Employment rights

An employment right is something to which an employee is entitled which is protected by law.   Laws provide a variety of “rights” for employees, including:

  • Reasonable notice before dismissal
  • Right to redundancy
  • Right to a written employment contract
  • Right to request flexible working
  • Right to be paid national minimum wage
  • Right to take time off for parenting

Health and safety

Health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill, by taking the right precautions and providing a satisfactory working environment.

The important thing for management to remember is that it is not just about protecting staff – health & safety applies to any people who come into contact with the business.  That means that proper health and safety needs to be provided to:

  • Employees working at the business premises, from home, or at another site
  • Visitors to the premises such as customers or subcontractors
  • People at other premises where the business is working, such as a construction site
  • Members of the public - even if they're outside the business premises
  • Anyone affected by products and services the business designs, produces or supplies

For most start-up or small businesses, complying with health and safety isn’t too much trouble.  However, in some industries health & safety is really important – for example:

  • Food processing (hygiene)
  • Hotels (guest safety, hygiene)
  • Chemical production (dangerous processes, waste disposal)
  • Air travel (passenger safety)
  • Tour operators (holidaymaker safety)







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