must be an accident book in the workplace to record any work-related injuries. You have the right to refuse to do something if you feel it places you or a fellow worker in danger.
You have the right at work not to be discriminated against because of your sex, race or disability, because you are pregnant or because you belong to a trade union. This applies from your first day. You are entitled to the same pay as anyone of the opposite sex doing the same or a comparable job.
The Part Time Workers Regulations, which came into force in July 2000, prohibit employers from treating part-time workers less favourably than full-time workers, unless such treatment can be objectively justified.
Employers have to ensure that part-time employees have equal access to occupational pensions, contractual sickness and maternity pay schemes; have annual leave entitlement and pension benefits calculated on a pro-rata basis; are entitled to the same rate of overtime pay as full-time workers once they have worked more than full-time hours; and are not discriminated against by redundancy selection criteria.
To take a claim to an Employment Tribunal, you would need to find a comparable full-time worker and show they were being treated more advantageously.
Freelance workers also benefit now from improved holiday rights. They are entitled to four weeks paid holiday a year following a ruling by the European Court of Justice. It found that the UK Government had broken European employment law. All workers now benefit from this ruling, but freelancers and those on short-term contracts had often had particular trouble claiming paid leave until they had worked for their employer for 13 weeks. The decision will particularly benefit teachers, cleaners and media workers.
And workers will soon have to be consulted by their companies about key business decisions. This will apply at firms which employ more than 20 workers in one place or more than 50 across several sites. It already happens in some European countries - when Marks & Spencer decided to close overseas stores it fell foul of a similar law in France. The European Union is looking to implement the new directive across all member countries.
It is very likely that your employer will have you under some form of surveillance, whether it is recording phone calls or monitoring e-mails and internet usage. It is thought about 85% of companies use surveillance in one way or another. They are allowed to do this under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, which came into effect in October 2000. However, employees are entitled to privacy under the Human Rights Act, so there is clearly some conflict in this area.
The most important thing is to find out what your employer's policy is on this issue. Under the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act, the company can justify surveillance only if it warns you first. It is vital to know where you stand, as the policy might be quite severe - firing staff for unsuitable e-mails or visiting certain types of website. If a company does not have a policy, it could find it difficult to prove an employee was acting improperly should a case end up at a tribunal.
Privacy at work is still a grey area because of the new legislation, but test cases will gradually give some guidelines to work from.
This information does not constitute legal advice, but is intended for guidance only.