Employment Rights Act 1996 

The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees perhaps their most important right, the basic right to claim unfair dismissal. This is discussed in more detail below. The Act also gives employees some additional important rights:-

  • The right to be given a written statement of terms & conditions of employment is in the Act
  • An important section of the Act (which used to be a separate act called the Wages Act) deals with the right of employees to receive an itemised pay statement and not to suffer unauthorised deductions. This part of the Act also provides than an employer must pay an employee in full and not take any money out of an employee’s pay packet, unless the employee has first given his or her written consent. (There are of course some exceptions to this general rule, the most obvious being that an employer is allowed to and must make deductions in respect of Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions.) As a result of this legislation, many employers include a standard clause in their contracts of employment which allows for deductions. This means they do not have to worry about getting written consent every time a deduction is to be made.
  • The Act also contains provisions giving employees rights to time off in certain specific circumstances including to attend ante-natal appointments, to participate in various committees, to perform various public functions and to participate in certain trade union activities.
  • The Act also contains important provisions setting out the minimum notice periods to which employees are entitled. The effect of the Act is that even if an employee’s contract states a particular length of notice, if this is less than the statutory minimum length of notice, the employee must be given the full statutory minimum notice.

The entitlement to statutory minimum notice depends on an employee’s length of service:

  • Less than 1 month None
  • 1 month or more but less than 2 complete years 1 week
  • 2 complete years or more 1 week for each complete year of service
  • 12 complete years or more Maximum entitlement of 12 weeks

Another of the very important rights contained in this Act is the right of employees with more than 2 years’ service to receive statutory redundancy payments if their employment is terminated by reason of redundancy.

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