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Employment law

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Business Studies

Situations of discrimination or harassment are unfortunately quite common around us. Such incidents are also likely to happen in the workplace. However, there are laws set in place by the government to make sure that no such issues occur in the work environment. This type of legislation is called employment law, and it has a great deal of importance in the business world. As you read further, you will about the different types of employment law. Let's take a look!

Employment law Definition

Every business follows some sort of employment law. It is a mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. The employment law extends from human resources to legal relations.

Employment law is a legal agreement between employers and employees which defines and regulates their relationship.

The law protects both employees and employers. Some of the main areas employment law focuses on are payment, discrimination, recruitment, and working conditions. It also specifies when an employee can work, and when an employer can hire employees. It is important that a business has proper employment laws to ensure a safe and smooth working environment. A major breach of the conditions of this legally binding agreement can lead to legal consequences.

Introduction of the Employment Law

Employment laws were first introduced in the UK in 1833. The first employment laws to be introduced were the Abolition of Slavery Act and the Factory Act in the same year.

  • Abolition of Slavery Act - this act was introduced during the British Empire and prohibited the slave trade, freeing 800,000 enslaved workers.

  • Factory Act - this act focused on improving working conditions. It prohibited children under the age of nine from working, and the number of hours kids worked was limited and made age-dependent.

The main goal of employment laws is to protect workers' rights. It makes sure that all employees are treated equally, and also gives employees a feeling of security. Their rights are protected under state and federal law. Businesses are obliged to act within the limits of the employment laws stated by the government. Failing to do so gives its employees the right to file a legal complaint against the company.

Employment laws help both the employees and the organisation. Employees that feel safe in their working environment function better, thus increasing the productivity of the organisation.

Examples of Employment Laws in the UK

The UK defines employment law as a contract of service. It is used to protect workers' rights in the UK. A few of the important employment laws set in place in the UK to ensure a safe working environment are:

  • Employment Rights Act - introduced in the year 1996, this law protects employees in the event of parental leave, unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, working hours, and termination. It focuses on and expands on the employee's rights.

Redundancy payments include money paid to employees when their employer lets them go based on the objective of cost reduction if the business is failing. They are non-taxable.

  • Employment Relations Act - this focuses on the collective labour law of Britain. It outlines rules regarding employee relationships and unions. This law was introduced in 1998.

  • National Minimum Wage Act - introduced in the year 1998, the act states the National Minimum Wage for all employees working in the UK. These wages are regularly revised. Currently, those aged 23 and over are entitled to receive the National Living Wage, which amounts to a payment of at least £9.50/hour.

  • The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations - this law, introduced in the year 1999, outlines an employee's right to maternity and parental leave; the ordinary and additional leave, and the notice period.

  • Part-time Workers Regulations - this law states that part-time workers must be treated equally and fairly as the full-time employees. This law came into force in 2000.

  • Transfer of Undertakings Regulations - the rights of existing employees are protected under this law introduced in 2006, in the event of a transfer of ownership from one employer to another.

  • Equality Act - protects the employees from discrimination in the workplace and ensures equal treatment. This act came into force in 2010.

  • Agency Workers Regulations - this act introduced in 2010 entitles agency workers the right to equal treatment to that of a regular employee employed directly by the company after 12 weeks of having worked in the company.

Employment Law Issues

Employment laws can give rise to problems or issues when the conditions around the working environment change, and the laws do not. The biggest change happening around us right now is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced many changes in the working environment, which, in turn, forces changes in the employment law, as these laws state when and how employees should function in an organisation.

There are also other issues, discussed in the following section, such as the review of certain laws. Laws should be revised regularly so that they stay relevant to the present working conditions.

Some key employment issues include:

  • Working remotely - according to their contracts, employees either work from home or the office; working from home is currently the more common option. After the onset of Covid-19 and the continuously changing government regulations, working from home became a non-negotiable option for the sake of everyone's health. This move to working from home, in some cases, is technically a breach of contract, thereby causing employment law issues.

  • Change in wages - employee wages were reduced due to the pandemic, as businesses were not performing well. This also gave rise to a lot of problems, as employees were paid lower than what was agreed upon in their contract.

  • Revision of laws - when laws are reviewed to ensure their relevance in the working environment, it can cause employment law issues within existing contracts if changes are made during the revision.

Importance of Employment Law

Employment laws ensure fair treatment of both employees and employers. Without such laws, employees and their employers would have a difficult time making sure that all their needs are met and that everyone has a safe environment to work in.

Fairness also emphasises the employer's rights and the employees' duties while working for the company. These laws are also vital to the business's success, as employees perform better when a safe working environment is ensured. They also play an important role in providing economic stability, as businesses can function better when they provide favourable working conditions.

Another important function of employment law is to prevent discrimination in the workplace. This makes sure that no employee is affected due to their gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. It also highlights issues such as wrongful termination of an employee who has suffered an injury or is on maternity leave. Employment laws also protect employees from harassment in the workplace.

Employment law Benefits, StudySmarterFigure 1. Benefits of Employment Law, StudySmarter

Therefore, employment laws play an important role in business operations, as every decision must be taken within the limits of the employment law. Both the employer and employee must understand these laws so that none of the terms stated in the employment law is violated on the job.

Employment law - Key Takeaways

  • Employment law refers to the legal agreement between employers and their employees.
  • Some important employment laws in the UK are the Employment Rights Act, the Employment Relations Act, the National Minimum Wage Act, maternity and parental leave regulations, part-time work regulations, transfer of undertakings regulations, the Equality Act, and agency work regulations.
  • A few benefits of employment law include fair treatment, defining employers' and employees' rights, providing economic stability, preventing discrimination, and protection from harassment.
  • Working remotely, changes in wages, and revision of laws are all examples of employment law issues.
  • Employment laws help both businesses and their employees.

Employment law

Employment law is the legal agreement between employers and their employees. 



It protects both employees and employers. Some of the main areas employment law focuses on are payment, discrimination, recruitment, and working conditions. It also specifies when an employee can work, and when an employer can hire employees. It is important to ensure that a business has proper employment laws to ensure a safe and smooth working environment. A major breach of the conditions of this legally binding agreement can lead to legal consequences. 

The Employment Rights Act, Employment Relations Act, National Minimum Wage Act, maternity and parental leave regulations, part-time workers regulations, transfer of undertakings regulations, Equality Act, and agency workers regulations are some important employment laws in the UK.

Working remotely, changes in wages and the revision of laws are some examples of employment law issues. 

Employment laws were first introduced in the UK in 1833. The first employment laws to be introduced were the Abolition of Slavery Act and the Factory Act in the same year. 

The main goal of employment laws is to protect the worker's rights. It makes sure that all employees are treated equally, and also gives employees a feeling of security. Their rights are protected under state and federal law. Businesses are obliged to act within the limits of the employment laws stated by the government. Failing to do so gives its employees the right to file a legal complaint against the company. 


Employment laws not only help the employees but also the organisation, employees that feel safe in their working environment function better, increasing the productivity of the organisation. 

Final Employment law Quiz

Question

Define employment law.

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Answer

Employment law is the legal agreement between employers and their employees.  

Show question

Question

Name a few areas of focus of the employment law.

Show answer

Answer

Payment, discrimination, recruitment, and working conditions 

Show question

Question

Name a few employment laws in the UK.

Show answer

Answer

Employment Rights Act, Employment Relations Act, National Minimum Wage Act, Maternity and Parental leave Regulations, Part-time Workers Regulations, Transfer of Undertakings Regulations, Equality Act, and Agency Workers Regulations are some important employment laws in the UK.

Show question

Question

What is the Employment Rights Act?

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Answer

It protects employees in the event of parental leave, unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, working hours, and termination. It focuses on and expands on the employee's rights.  

Show question

Question

When was the Employment Rights Act introduced?

Show answer

Answer

1996

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Question

Which law outlines the rules about employee relationships and them joining or not joining a union?

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Answer

Employment Relations Act  

Show question

Question

What is the National Minimum Wage Act?

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Answer

The act states the national minimum wage for all the employees working in the UK. 

Show question

Question

_________ was introduced in the year 1999, outlines an employee's right to parental leave, the ordinary and additional leave, and the notice period.  

Show answer

Answer

The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations  

Show question

Question

Part-time Workers Regulations was introduced in ____.


Show answer

Answer

2000

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Question

What is the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations?

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Answer

The rights of existing employees are protected under this law in the event of a transfer of ownership from one employer to another.  

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Question

Equality Act, and Agency Workers Regulations were introduced in the year ____.

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Answer

2010

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Question

What law protects the employees from discrimination in the workplace and ensures equal treatment?

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Answer

Equality Act.

Show question

Question

Why was the Agency Workers Regulations introduced?

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Answer

This act entitles agency workers the right to equal treatment to that of a regular employee employed directly by the company after 12 weeks of having worked in the company. 

Show question

Question

State a few reasons why employment law is important.

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Answer

Fair treatment, defining the employers' and employees' rights, providing economic stability, preventing discrimination, and protection from harassment are a few benefits of the employment law.

Show question

Question

Name a few employment law issues.

Show answer

Answer

Working remotely, changes in wages, revision of laws are some examples of employment law issues. 

Show question

Question

What is the Abolition of Slavery Act?

Show answer

Answer

The Abolition of Slavery Act was introduced in the British colony prohibited the slave trade and freed 800,000 enslaved workers from Africa.  

Show question

Question

The __________ focused on improving working conditions. It prohibited kids under the age of nine from working, and the number of hours kids worked was limited and depended on their age. 

Show answer

Answer

Factory Act

Show question

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