Since work is accounted for taking up a major part of a person’s life, it is important to understand the norms and regulations regarding the rights of employees. They are determined mostly by employment status and to some extent, by the type of work. People make a career to receive additional benefits apart from salary, which is different depending on the employer. Each company must understand the fundamental needs of its workers and perform regular research on conditions that make them stay or leave.
The Start of the Employment Relationship
There are different factors that can affect the employment relationship at the beginning. They are generally characterized as internal and external. Usually, it is a combination of factors that influences this relationship since each company exists as a small unit affected by the local economy and legislation.
One of the internal factors is the corporate culture. Depending on the norms set in a working community, a person might feel either comfortable or not. It is important that the corporate culture is shared by all employees and each of them shares common goals and values. Another internal factor is the company budget. It affects the employee relationship on many levels, starting from the variety of projects available for taking part in and finishing with the salary range.
For instance, if a company has a limited budget, it cannot afford to promote its employees to positions with higher salaries. Besides, if such a company decides to have its employees work on a project, they will be limited in many options, which will eventually affect their level of satisfaction with the whole process. Workers may decide to choose another organization where they will have more possibilities for growth and development.
One of the external factors includes the inflation rate. While a company may review salaries once a year, it may not be enough during a bad economic situation. Employees may become dissatisfied with the reward for their work. Another external factor is the possible changes in the labor law. While this factor is relatively stable, any new regulations can influence liabilities towards employees and managers. For example, employees now expect not to be discriminated against in the workplace. However, many companies currently do not allow such practices as religious worshipping during working hours. A change in the labor law that would allow such actions could ease the tension between religious workers and their managers.
Types of Employment Status
There are several types of employment status depending on the liabilities of a company towards workers and the general structure of the labor process. Three of them include the worker, the employee, and the self-employed type. Each of these types has its benefits and disadvantages regarding payment, bonuses, and risks.
The worker is someone who acts according to a contract or other type of agreement that is not necessarily written. One of the most popular markers for such employment status is freelance. Workers are not a part of the company’s human resources, and many rights are not applicable to them. The employee status is identified when a person works for an organization in compliance with the contract.
He or she is subject to following corporate policies, having a set number of working hours per week, and other formal requirements. Employees receive such benefits as maternity or paternity leaves, paid vacations, etc. People who have a self-employed status do not have a manager and may hire subordinate workers. They take up full responsibility for the success of their business.
It is important to understand an employment status for a number of reasons. Firstly, each status carries different budget costs and liabilities associated with it. For instance, the taxes depend on these categories. Thus, a self-employed person is not subject to paying an income tax through PAYE. Employment status is also associated with expectations that each party has towards another. Employees might expect to receive a dismissal notice in advance, while workers could get in on the spot. Understanding the employment status is important for knowing the level of security of a particular job.
Rights During the Employee Relationship
The Work-Life Balance
The work-life balance implies that a person has enough time apart from the job duties to participate in family and leisure activities. If a company is successful in keeping this balance, it has bigger chances to stimulate employee motivation, engagement, and retention. Practices such as appraising the after-hours work lead to a low level of satisfaction among employees and lead them to look for another job.
All the conditions associated with labor hours and rest are described in the Working Time Regulations 1998. There are formulas that help to calculate the normal balance between work and rest. The regulations determine that the annual leave as a general case should include 20 working days. Besides, 8 days of public holidays are added to this number. The weekly labor should be 48 hours averaged out over 17 weeks except for the cases when the job type requires extra efforts like positions in the police or a hospital.
If work takes up 6 hours or more, an employee should be given an unpaid break of 20 minutes, yet it cannot be at the end of the shift. The daily rest cannot be less than 11 hours between shifts. Special conditions also apply to the night workers. Most of them cannot work more than 8 out of 24 hours period. The night shift is considered a period of at least 3 hours between 11 pm and 6 am. Any person wishing to work during a night shift must undergo a health assessment before it, as well as regularly afterward. When a company employs people who are 16-17 years old, it cannot engage them in labor between midnight and 4 o’clock in the morning.
All the mentioned conditions apply to most jobs that are associated with a routine or other day-to-day work in the office. Special conditions apply to people engaged in providing services. Besides, those people who serve in the army are subject to other terms stated in these regulations due to their demanding labor and frequent deployments.
The government realizes the importance of supporting family relationships among people who are working full-time. These matters are regulated by the Work and Families Act 2006. The main subjects covered by this law concern maternity, paternity, adoption, and dependants’ leave.
The general rule is that both mother and father do not have equal rights in getting a leave for taking care of a new-born child. Usually, a mother has 26 weeks that she can spend on a child (Maternity pay and leave 2016). Even if she decides to return to work as soon as possible, she is required to stay at home for at least 2 weeks after a baby is born. If a woman works in a factory, this period is extended to 4 weeks. If a mother feels that she needs more time to take care of her child, she may take additional 26 weeks off work. The first 39 weeks are paid according to the Statutory Maternity Pay, while the last 13 weeks are not.
At the same time, a father can take a short leave of only 7 or 14 days, while the end of this term should not be later than the time when the baby is 56 days old. Recent times have changed the perception of which partner should take paternal leave. Sometimes it is the father who chooses this option. It has to be borne in mind that despite the fact that paternity leave is shorter than maternity leave, a father, civil partner or joint adopter can qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) as well as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) (Shared parental leave and pay n.d.). If one is eligible for SPL, they can take what remains of 52 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and Additional Maternity Leave (AML) unused by a mother (Shared parental leave and pay n.d.).
Same time frames are applied to adoption leaves. A norm is 26 ordinary weeks and the same number of additional ones. Besides, there is a difference in the start date. Usually, it is 14 days prior to a child arriving in a family. In the case of overseas child adoption, the period starts from their arrival to the country. Dependant leave is also regulated by the UK government. Employees are entitled to “a reasonable time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant” (Time off for family and dependents n.d., para. 1). However, employers are not legally bounded to compensate workers for their time off. Rather, it is a matter of agreement that has to be covered in a contract or an organization’s handbook.
All people expect to be treated fairly in the workplace. A company’s failure to do this may lead to the loss of valuable employees. Inability to provide fair payment is a form of discrimination that should not be a part of a legal business’s practice. Several law policies regulate the amount of payment and conditions that apply to it.
One of the major issues is the difference in salaries of men and women occupying the same positions. While most companies do not favor the openness regarding payment, this condition makes it easier to conduct unfair practices of this kind. There are various reasons that managers have in mind when offering different payment. However, female workers often have the pressure of financially supporting their children, especially if they are single mothers. The inability of the female population to progress in a career does not serve as a boost for the country’s economy. Men and women performing the same duties must be rewarded equally, which is regulated by the Equal Pay Act 1970.
Another way to support equal pay is the minimum wage. It is enforced by the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, which currently determines the number as £7,20 per hour. Low payment makes a range of jobs unattractive to many people. Employers are relying on those who are in a hard life situation to agree to such conditions. However, people occupying positions with low payment will be looking for another job, and they will switch companies as soon as there is an option. Besides, people that agree to work for small payment are often immigrants that do not have legal rights to work in the UK. Hiring these people harms the local economy since an employer company is not paying income taxes to the government.
Unfortunately, some companies have discrimination as their practice. Discrimination towards employees may be either direct or indirect, with the latter implying that although the job listing does not include any violations, it still provides opportunities only for a small group of people to acquire this position. Other types of violations associated with employment are victimization and harassment.
Victimization is a type of discrimination that is based on treating someone worse than others due to the fact that he or she used to be a part of labor equality proceedings or other matters associated with the topic. The issue of harassment also remains unresolved in some organizations, as employees or managers treat their colleagues in a negative and harmful way regarding characteristics that are protected under the Equality legislation.
Most issues regarding this subject are regulated by the Equality Act 2010. It identifies several characteristics that cannot serve as a background for discrimination. They include age, gender, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, and disability or lack thereof. This means that all employees should be treated equally independent of these factors. The inability of a company to comply with this law may cause an employee to file a claim against it. Usually, it takes a comparison between him or her and another worker who is treated better based on having the more preferred characteristics.
In addition to victimization and harassment, employees might experience direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination refers to less favorable treatment that occurs as the result of one or several protected characteristics (Discrimination: your rights n.d.). For example, an employee might be denied a promotion because of their gender. Indirect discrimination, on the other hand, transpires when an organization’s rules or arrangements have the effect of disadvantaging a person with protected characteristics (Discrimination: your rights n.d.). An example of indirect discrimination against individuals with children is prohibiting employees from working part-time.
A legal contract is not the only way to regulate relationships between managers and employees. Many important elements of these relationships are associated with the psychological comfort that both parties experience during the whole period of work. Trust plays the most important role as it is the guarantee of stability that an employee finds within a position. The discussed concept can be ensured through policies within an organization that encourage appreciation and recognition of workers along with maintaining their rights and helping them to achieve their career goals.
A psychological contract has much to do with determining liabilities that are not described in a formal document regulating the employment terms. Workers need to understand from the start whom they can contact regarding any issues or initiatives concerning a process. Moreover, they have to be confident that their interactions with management would not cause anger or other aggressive reaction from the latter.
Even if all the conditions of the written contract are executed as promised, the failure to create an environment where workers would feel comfortable may lead a company to lose its valuable human resource. An example of a psychological contract can be seen in a situation when workers are allowed to leave earlier on Friday if this is not mentioned in official agreement papers. Management can support this initiative to help employees to be more satisfied with their job due to the comfortable conditions such as the ability to drive home on Friday before there are any traffic jams.
An example of such a situation is usually the result when an employee wishes to leave a position due to the lack of attractive conditions. For instance, he or she may find the practice of management of imposing fines for every second of lateness as harsh. Thus, the stress from work can lead to a low level of satisfaction from this particular position. Of course, a person may look towards changing responsibilities within a company. However, the breaking of a psychological contract often leads to the overall stress of feeling not valued, which usually pushes people to look for opportunities in another organization.
Termination of Employment
Fair and Unfair Dismissal
There is a grand difference between a fair and unfair dismissal. The concept covers two steps, the first of which is reasoning, and the second one is the procedure. Reasons for a fair dismissal:
- Employee’s inability to properly perform his or her duties.
- Bad conduct harming the corporate culture or safety.
- An employer trying to protect his or her business.
Most of these conditions will be followed by notice or payment without a worker having to finish the remaining period. However, severe misconduct may lead to immediate dismissal without notice.
An unfair dismissal includes:
- Firing a worker due to discrimination (e.g. if she gets pregnant).
- Firing a worker due to family issues.
- Contract conditions allowing automatic decision-making upon its termination.
- Creating a stressful psychological atmosphere.
Exit interviews are important to both parties. These are the forms filled out by employees who are leaving a company, which contain the information about primary reasons for such step. The important part about this step is confidentiality, as not many people are willing to share a negative opinion about their managers or colleagues even if they have already decided to leave.
Benefits from exit interviews received by a company are easy to determine. For example, they help to improve the corporate culture by eliminating any possible signs of discrimination, if it appears to be the reason for leaving. Improving employee retention is also the benefit received from this practice. Managers receive an opportunity to understand what makes their workers feel unsatisfied and improve this issue in the future.
Benefits for employees are not that easy to determine. It is mostly associated with the fact that they are leaving a company and will not be influenced by it anymore. However, they might feel valued when sharing an opinion, which could serve as a satisfaction factor and a reason for contacting a company for future recommendations. Future employees are the ones who receive the most benefits from exit interviews. They acquire a chance to get a more accurate job description and enter a culture of respect and recognition that was shaped after working with problems.
Redundancies become a necessity when an organization is restructuring or implements a new technology that decreases the number of workers required. The core element in this process is to ensure all stages are fair and comply with the law. There are several steps that a business should follow to experience as fewer disadvantages as possible while following the regulations:
- Defining a pool of workers that would be subject to redundancy by consulting employees and encouraging them to share their thoughts on the process.
- Notifying the Business Skills and Innovation department (if the number is large).
- Having volunteers leave the post for compensation discuss it with managers.
- Executing statutory dismissal procedures.
- Consulting selected employees individually.
- Reviewing appeals from employees.
- Paying out compensations and other costs.
One of the main difficulties that are faced by a company as an impact of redundancies is the major sense of insecurity and lack of initiative from employees who were lucky to stay. It is understandable that they may feel stressed about their future career after seeing an example of their colleagues leaving. Managers must apply all their skills to be open about the reasons that have caused such actions and ensure they are available for a discussion with their employees.
Some of the other negative effects on the company include the temporary loss of productivity. Employee engagement and psychological contracts are usually also harmed by this process. Finally, redundancy is associated with high costs and certain damage to the brand if the information becomes known to the wide public.
Discrimination: your rights n.d. Web.
Maternity pays and leave 2016. Web.
Shared parental leave and pay n.d. Web.
Time off for family and dependents n.d. Web.