In the UK, various employment laws offer the right to fair and equal treatment at work
It may not always seem true but for those of us in the UK, we are lucky. We’re lucky because we have laws in place to make the workplace fair and equal, without discrimination against our gender, age or religion.
We also have unions to guard against unfair dismissal, providing employees a level of security that many other countries do not possess. Below are some of the things in place in Britain to ensure a fair workplace.
One piece of legislation to help guarantee a fair workplace is minimum wage, which means any worker that is employed on a contract must earn no less than a certain amount. The law takes into consideration the fact that responsibilities tend to increase as one gets older, and so is higher for those aged 21 or over (£6.19 per hour) and lower for the under 18s (£3.68 per hour). Those aged 18 to 20 must earn at least £4.98 per hour.
This law is particularly useful for employees in the hospitality trade, as some employers would offer a lower salary on the assumption that the workers would earn tips. The problem with this, of course, is that not everybody earns tips every day, or they may not be enough to cover the difference in missing salary.
Another measure of workplace fairness is pay during holiday time and sick time. This is reassuring to employees because it means if you are hit with a bug that keeps you off work for a week, you don’t have to worry about not making the mortgage payments. Full-time employees are entitled to at least 28 days of paid holiday per year, and part-time employees are entitled to a pro rata number.
In addition, employees aged 16 or 17 have the legal right for time off work to study, so if you are still in school but working to earn money on the side, you don’t have to worry about balancing the two.
One point of contention used to be unfair payment schemes between men and women, with males earning more than females for the same job. The 1970s saw a big change in the employment landscape, with gender equality being recognised with the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
The UK also became a member of the EU in 1972, which stated that “Each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is applied.”
One of the biggest pieces of legislation is the employment equality law. This law makes prejudice-based actions illegal, and lists some protected characteristics. These include age, gender, disability, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation, religious belief, race or gender reassignment.
This legislation is also strengthened by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Essentially, the law makes discrimination illegal in access to education, public services, private goods and services, and employment. In addition, the Equality Act 2006 created the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which strengthens enforcement of the existing laws on equality. The existing legislation was put under one banner of the Equality Act 2010.
The laws do not just protect employees, but also customers. The Act means that if you enter a shop or other business premises and are harassed or otherwise discriminated against because of any of the aforementioned protected characteristics, the worker is in violation of the Equality Act and breaking the law.
So regardless of how old we are or any disability we may have, the UK Government has, over recent decades, passed a number of laws to make sure that the workplace is fair and equal to all employees, guaranteeing certain rights and payments.