14th April 2011
Employment Law – The Essentials
Employment law covers the welfare and equality of employees in any work establishment. Strict guidelines and statutes outline exactly what an employer can and can’t do in regards to the work environment and treatment of their employees. For most companies, it is quite a confusing concept due to so many conditions surrounding each statute.
However, it is essential that employers understand the regulations around employment law as failure to adhere to this law can result in the employer(s) being taken to court. If the case is tried at magistrates for a summary offence the employer can be fined up to £5000. Whereas, if it is an indictment offence referred to the Crown Court there is no set limit to the maximum fine allowed to be implemented.
Employment law covers all aspects of employment. The predominant areas to be understood are:
- Equality – relating to prejudice towards certain groups of people or individuals for superficial reasons such as skin colour, gender or sexuality.
- Payment – ensuring that every worker receives at least the national minimum wage for the age category they fall in.
- Working time regulations – entitling workers to legally work no more than 48 hours per week unless they choose to “opt out”, holiday entitlement which states employees have four weeks paid leave per annum pro rata and that workers have a minimum of twenty minutes break per six-hour shift.
Of course, there is one major factor of employment law that has not been listed – health and safety. This can be the most costly aspect to an employer, should health and safety regulations be breached. Technically, health and safety is the main focus of employment law and is covered in all statutes. For instance, working time regulations are mandatory to ensure the worker gets the rest needed to avoid fatigue, depression and illness.
Health and Safety is in place reduce the number of hazards in the workplace. The term “hazard” contains numerous categories such as:
- Mechanical hazards: these refer to slips, trips and falls; equipment based injuries and falling on sharp objects.
- Physical hazards: noise and vibrations which could cause damage to the ears and lighting which could harm the eye.
- Chemical hazards: asbestos comes under this category and can cause asbestos-related cancers if exposed to it regularly. Other chemicals can include acid, fire and solvents to name a few.
- Psychosocial hazards: this covers stress which is work-related. This can be due to bullying, sexual harassment and violence.
As mentioned before, employment law can be an awfully mind-boggling concept to employers. So, what can be done In order to make sure businesses adhere to these laws? Businesses often subscribe to Employment Support Packages. This can help businesses understand more about employment law and ensure that they are abiding by the law and maintain an optimum working environment for workers.