Employment law in England and Wales is a complex and ever-evolving field that governs the relationship between employers and employees. Navigating the legal landscape can be challenging, especially for individuals and businesses seeking clarity on their rights and obligations. In this blog, we will address ten frequently asked questions in employment law to provide a better understanding of key issues.
1. What is the minimum wage in England and Wales?
The minimum wage varies depending on age and whether the individual is an apprentice. As of 1 April 2023, the rates are:
National Minimum Wage for those aged 23 and above : £10.42
National Minimum Wage for those aged 21-22: £10.18
National Minimum Wage for 18 to 20-year-olds: £7.49
National Minimum Wage for under-18s: £5.28
The Apprentice rate: £5.28 (The apprentice rate applies to people aged under 19, or people over 19 in the first year of their apprenticeship).
The minimum wage is the same across all parts of the UK.
2. Can an employer change the terms of an employment contract?
Generally, an employer cannot unilaterally change the terms of an employment contract without the employee’s agreement. Any changes should be mutually agreed upon, and if not, it may constitute a breach of contract.
3. What is unfair dismissal?
Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed without a fair reason or without following the correct procedures. Employees with at least two years of continuous service have the right to claim unfair dismissal.
4. Can an employer dismiss an employee without notice?
In certain circumstances, such as gross misconduct, an employer may dismiss an employee without notice. However, this should be carefully assessed and the employer should follow a fair procedure.
5. What is the difference between redundancy and unfair dismissal?
Redundancy is a specific reason for dismissal that occurs when an employer needs to reduce their workforce. Unfair dismissal, on the other hand, refers to a dismissal that is not justified or conducted fairly.
6. Can an employer discriminate against an employee?
No, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on protected characteristics such as age, race, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation. Discrimination can lead to legal claims.
7. What is the process for resolving workplace disputes?
Workplace disputes can be resolved through informal discussions, mediation or formal procedures such as grievance and disciplinary processes. In some cases, employment tribunals may be involved.
8. What are the rights of part-time workers?
Part-time workers have the right to be treated no less favourably than full-time workers in terms of pay rates, holiday entitlement and access to training and promotion opportunities.
9. Can an employer monitor employees’ emails and internet usage?
Employers have the right to monitor employees’ emails and internet usage, but they must inform employees of this and have a legitimate reason for doing so. Privacy rights should be respected.
10. What is the process for making a claim to an employment tribunal?
To make a claim to an employment tribunal, the employee must follow specific procedures and time limits. This includes submitting an Early Conciliation form to ACAS and completing the necessary forms to initiate the claim.
Employment law in England and Wales covers a wide range of issues that impact both employers and employees. These ten frequently asked questions provide a starting point for understanding key aspects of employment law, but it is important to seek professional legal advice for specific situations. Staying informed about employment rights and obligations is crucial for maintaining a fair and harmonious working environment.
Alexander JLO’s expert employment lawyers are well placed to advise employers and employees alike when it comes to any area of employment law. Why not contact us on 020 7537 7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation consultation and see what we can do for you?