Employment Rights

Life at university can be pretty expensive, and commonly, students need to work part time in order to support them in their studies. So, it’s important you’re all clued up on your rights whilst at work, and what to do if you feel your rights have been breached. JMSU have teamed up with LJMU Law School to get you in the know!


Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage goes up every year, but varies by age.

From April 2019 – March 2020: Minimum wage is as follows

18-20 - £6.15,

21-24 - £7.70

25+ - £8.21



There are three broad types of breaks that you need to know about:

Rest breaks – If you work for more than six hours a day, then you should have at least one uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes. So that's pretty much your lunch break, a chance to pop to the shops or just enough time to grab a cup of tea.

Daily rest – There should always be at least 11 hours between your shifts. In other words, if you finish a shift at 9pm, you shouldn't be on the rota again until 8am the next day.

Weekly rest – You also have the right to either an uninterrupted 24 hours without work each week, or 48 hours every fortnight. This could be at any point during the week.


Holiday (annual leave)

All workers are legally entitled to a certain amount of paid holiday per year (unless you're self-employed or on a temporary contract). For those working full-time, you must get at least 5.6 paid holiday weeks a year. For part-time workers, you're entitled to a proportion of those 5.6 weeks, depending on how many days/hours you normally work.

Precisely when you take your leave is pretty much down to you and your employer – it's all about coming to an agreement that suits you both.

Similarly, employers can stipulate that you have to take holiday at certain times of the year if business is particularly quiet.

In short, your employer must give you the option of taking a set number of days off each year – but there are no hard and fast rules regarding when and how many days off you can have in a row.


Your contract:

At the start of your employment you should be given a statement of the terms and conditions of your employment within 8 weeks of starting your job. This statement can be written or oral or both and should include information such as:

Job title

Rate of Pay

Notice Period

Hours of work

Holiday entitlement


Keeping you after your agreed shift

Your employer has no right to keep you at work past the agreed hours if they are not paying you or have the intention to give you the time back. Sometimes you may need to stay over your shift, but they must pay you or agree a time for you to take it back, whether it be coming in later or leaving early another day.


Health and Safety

Your employer has a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment, equipment and clothing for you. They must comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The 1974 Act has clear rules about a number of issues including: cleanliness, lifting and carrying, hours and rests, and machinery.


Equality and Diversity

All workers are protected under the Equality Act 2010. The 2010 Act protects the following characteristics:

Age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex and sexual orientation

Under the 2010 Act, there are six types of discrimination: Direct discrimination; indirect discrimination; associated discrimination; perceived discrimination; harassment and victimisation

Equal pay: The 2010 Act gives a right to equal pay between women and men for equal work. This covers individuals in the same employment, and includes equality in pay and all other contractual terms such as non-discretionary bonuses. The 2010 Act implies a sex equality clause automatically into all contracts of employment, ensuring that a woman's contractual terms are no less favourable than a man's.

Just because you have a job does not mean that you are an employee. There are essentially three categories of employment status: employees; workers and independent contractors. Your employment rights are dependent on your employment status. Your employment contract, if you have one, and the Employment Rights Act 1996 provide some guidance. Employees enjoy the most protection and workers enjoy some rights. If there is a dispute about the employment status, the Employment Tribunal will decide.


Zero-hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts are also known as casual contracts. Zero-hours contracts are usually for ‘piece work’ or ‘on call’ work, for example delivery workers.  Zero-hours workers are entitled to statutory annual leave and the National Minimum Wage in the same way as regular workers. Employers cannot stop zero-hours workers from working for another employer.


If you think you need legal advice you can contact the free, confidential legal advice service in the School of Law: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/about-us/faculties/faculty-of-business-and-law/school-of-law/legal-advice-centre .