Employment

Do casual workers have any employment rights?

By Thalis Vlachos
Published: 04:06PM BST 07 Feb 2012


Many people, including students look for work over Christmas and New Year. So for these most seasonal of all "seasonal casual workers", what rights do they have this Christmas and New Year - or any other time of year?

There's a common misconception that casual workers have no employment rights, including, for example, a right to holiday leave and a right to statutory sick pay.   As a casual worker, your rights and benefits will depend on your employment status, of which there are three categories: employee, worker, or self-employed.

Your category will be determined by your working relationship. If you're in any doubt, in the first instance you should read your contract of employment, the starting point in providing evidence of your status.   Some rights are further dependent on length of service. To add a twist, some rights are granted irrespective of length of service or employment status, so it's always worth asking.

What follows is an overview of the rights that may be afforded to you as a casual worker. We've concentrated on the rights most commonly exercised and those available to workers and/or employees only.  Self-employed contractors are usually more dependent on what's referred to in their contracts to determine those rights.  The rights and benefits we've set out below aren't intended to be an exhaustive list and there are many more rights and/or benefits that haven't been referred to.   If you're in doubt about your employment status or rights, call our helpline on 03700 868686.

Casual Workers' Rights

Irrespective of length of service, as an EMPLOYEE or WORKER, you are entitled to the following:

  • Paid annual leave during employment irrespective of number of hours worked (however the amount of leave permitted will be dependent upon length of assignment and hours worked per week).
  • Payment of any unused holiday upon your employment ending.
  • The right to certain weekly and daily rest breaks.
  • Statutory sick pay (SSP) dependent upon certain requirements being met.
  • The right to be protected against deductions from wages and / or the non payment of wages.
  • The right to be protected against discrimination on the grounds of / because of race, sex, disability, age, part-time status, sexual orientation and religion or belief.
  • The right to receive the National Minimum Wage (there are certain thresholds dependent on age).
  • The right to be protected against any detriment and/or dismissal as a result of making a protected disclosure (commonly known as 'whistle-blowing').

Irrespective of length of service, as an EMPLOYEE you are entitled to the following in addition to those listed above:

  • The right to time off work for dependants.  A dependent is defined as a spouse (husband or wife) civil partner, a parent and a child under the age of 18. It can also extend to other persons dependent upon the circumstances).
  • The right to time off for ante natal care, maternity leave and protection against dismissal for pregnancy.
  • The right to receive a written statement of main terms and conditions of employment.

These following rights are in addition to all those above, but apply to EMPLOYEES only and are dependent upon length of service:

  • The right to written particulars of employment – at least one month's service is required.
  • The right to written reasons for dismissal – at least one year's service is required, although there are exceptions.
  • The right to claim unfair dismissal – as above, one or more year's service is required, although there are exceptions. For example, if the reason or principal reason for the dismissal is connected to pregnancy, child birth or maternity or there was a protected disclosure ('whistle-blowing'), one year's service isn't required.
  • The right to claim a statutory redundancy payment and to paid time off to look for work when being made redundant – two or more years' service is required to enjoy these rights.
  • The right to be paid statutory maternity pay (subject to eligibility).
  • The right to be paid paternity pay (subject to eligibility) and receive paternity leave.
  • The right to receive statutory adoption pay (subject to eligibility) and receive adoption leave
  • The right to request flexible working.

What next?

At Access Legal from Shoosmiths we have specialists who can advise you on any employment law issues. If you've any specific queries or would like to check your rights, please call our helpline on 03700 86 86 86 or contact us online at www.access-legal.co.uk.

This article is for your general information only and isn't a detailed statement of the law. It's provided free of charge and shouldn't be used as a substitute for specific legal advice.

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All documents should be read and used in accordance with the terms and conditions. This document is for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It is provided to you free of charge and should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please contact our helpline on 03700 86 86 86.