What is the Employment Rights Act 1996?

The Employment Rights Act 1996 is a parliamentary law brought in by the Conservative government to structure the pre-existing laws of employment for individuals. This was initially established under Labour laws.

The Act updated on previous legislation that was established in the 1960s as well as the Employment Protection Act 1975 and the Wages Act 1986.

Extension of Rights of Workers

The Employment Act 1996 further extended the rights of workers. It also granted additional protections of the law.

The purpose of the Act was to consolidate enactments relating to employee rights and it covers areas detailed below.

Contract of Employment

In the 1996 Act, the contract of employment should be provided within two months of starting a new job. It should be signed by both parties.

The contract should outline important areas of employment. For example, wages, job title and hours of work as well as the duration of employment if working temporary hours.

Wage Slips

The 1996 Act stated that an employee has the right to receive an itemised pay statement (payslip).

This must include employer deductions before the payment of wages is due.

Parental Leave – Employment Rights Act

The 1996 Act states that there should be up to 52 weeks (one year) of maternity leave entitled to the employee.

There is also one week of paternity leave at a minimum.

Rest Breaks

Under the 1996 Act, an employee became entitled to both daily and weekly rest breaks.

Daily an employee is allowed a 20-minute break for every 6 hours worked.

Notice of Dismissal

Under the 1996 Act, employees have a right to reasonable notice before their contracts can be terminated.

Long Service – Employment Rights Act

Under the 1996 Act, employees who had worked for one business for a comprehensive period of time became entitled to different benefits.

After 6 months employees were allowed to ask for flexible working.

After 12 months they were able to ask for parental leave and after 24 months, if dismissed the employee could claim unfair dismissal.

Redundancy Payments

Under the 1996 Act, an employee that was made redundant was entitled to a sum of money if they had worked for the employer for 2 or more years.

Unfair Dismissal – Employment Rights Act

Under the 1996 Act, employers had to give a reason for letting staff go.

Unfair dismissal included requests for rights that were now afforded to employees under the new legislation. For example, the right to ask for flexible working.

If employees were dismissed on any of these grounds there could be an employment tribunal to state the case of unfair dismissal by the employer.

Employer Insolvency

Under the 1996 Act, if an employer or business became bankrupt and could not pay their employees the employees would be compensated by the government.

Disclosure and Detriment

Under the 1996 Act, there became a protection against detriment. This is suffering due to the disclosure of public information.

Therefore, It protects employees regarding reporting criminal offences and failures of legal obligations as well as other instances such as health and safety violations.

It does not give the employee the right to commit a criminal offence in disclosing such information.

Sundays, Time Off and Suspension

Under the 1996 Act, employees were given the right to have time off for things such as jury duty and training without being penalised by an employer.

The Act helps to regulate the relationships between employees and employers. It also helps to lay out what can be expected from an employee as well as what employers are allowed to ask of an employee.