If you’ve ever misled employees on legal entitlements, they might now be equipped to respond, after Citizens Advice announced the most common workplace rights myths staff are told by bosses.
The body’s online employment advice pages were accessed 9.3m times in the 12 months to April 2017, while 180,000 UK workers contacted Citizens Advice seeking clarity on their legal status as an employee.
Now, Citizens Advice has brought together the workplace rights myths most frequently peddled by unscrupulous bosses in that period.
One of the most frequent workplace rights myths misunderstood by workers was holiday pay entitlement.
In May 2017, Citizens Advice revealed half of those on zero-hours contracts, and 40 per cent of temporary staff, wrongly believed they weren’t accruing holiday pay for their work.
Zero-hours contract workers have the same right to 28 days’ annual leave (including bank holidays) as staff on regular contracts, although based on the average number of days they work per week.
Misinformation on employment status followed, after many business owners continuously failed to provide clarity over workers’ contracts and whether they were legally considered full-time employees or self-employed.
Another common issue raised by workers was regarding dismissal rights. Legally, as an employer you must have a valid and justifiable reason for terminating a contact, and also act reasonably in the circumstances.
For example, an employee cannot be singled out for behaviour colleagues are also guilty of, while employers must investigate a situation fully before taking action.
“Bad bosses are denying people their rights, often for their own gain,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
“People with complex work arrangements or those whose circumstances change can be unsure about their rights, with unscrupulous employers using the opportunity to mislead them about how they should be treated.”
In a warning to business owners, Guy urged employees being refused appropriate pay and protections to “seek advice straight away”.
“Anyone who is being refused pay and protections should seek advice straight away, to help them clarify their rights and how they can raise the issue with their boss.”
The following ten quotes were released by Citizens Advice as red flags to employees, who were advised to take legal action against employers spreading misinformation.
- “You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own national insurance contributions.”
- “We can’t afford to pay you any more – you’ll have to go self-employed.”
- “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”
- “You were traveling between clients – so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”
- “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”
- “You’re having a baby next year? We’ll need to take you off that important project now.”
- “We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”
- “We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take holiday.”
- “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”
- “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”
Use our guide to get up to speed on major employment law changes coming into effect in 2017
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