New research suggests that at least a million people across the UK are being denied their rights – with employers most likely to breach their obligations in respect of minimum wage, providing payslips and holiday entitlement.


By law, all workers have a number of rights that have been carefully laid down to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly by their employers.  These rights, which have been given under statute are called statutory rights.

While statutory rights form the basis for fair treatment in the workplace, your specific employee rights may vary slightly depending on the type of job you are hired to do and the arrangement you have with your employer along with a few other variables.  Your exact rights at work will ultimately be derived from a combination of your statutory rights and your employment contract.

As a worker, you may have some rights that are set out in the terms and conditions of your employment or your contract, other than those required by law.  These are known as contractual rights.

The terms of the contract may vary the terms of your employment and may award you additional rights beyond the statutory minimums.  For example, an employer may offer maternity and paternity leave at full pay.  However, this is not obligatory by law and is at the discretion of the employer.

An important point to note regarding contractual rights is that an employment contract can offer you additional rights but they cannot offer you fewer rights than those offered by law.  In other words, contracts of employment cannot forcefully restrict your statutory rights.  They can only limit your rights with your consent.  For example, if you agree, of your own will, to opt-out of the maximum 48-hour working week or you agree to work on Sundays, it overrides your statutory rights regarding these terms.

Once the terms of the employment contract have been agreed upon, your employer must abide by them.  If they do not, they could be held liable for breach of contract.

If you’re concerned, call our Employment team for specialist employment advice.