Some employers are misleading employees about their rights at work, according to Citizens Advice.
In the 12 months to April 2017, 180,000 people came to Citizens Advice for help with a problem at work.
Its employment advice pages were viewed 9.3 million times. The most common queries were are around pay and entitlements, contract terms and conditions (such as if workers are self-employed) and dismissal.
With the rise of zero hours contracts and unclear employment status, workers can be unsure about their rights and some employers use this opportunity to mislead and mistreat them.
In May 2017, Citizens Advice revealed that half of people on zero hours contracts and two in five temporary workers wrongly thought they weren’t entitled to sick pay.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said:
“Bad bosses are denying people their rights, often for their own gain.
“People with complex work arrangements or those whose circumstances change can be unsure about their rights, with unscrupulous employers using the opportunity to mislead them about how they should be treated.
“Anyone who is being refused pay and protections should seek advice straight away, to help them clarify their rights and how they can raise the issue with their boss.”
Rights to fight for
Look out for these 10 lies that employers may tell you to avoid giving you what you’re entitled to.
“We can’t afford to pay you any more – you’ll have to go self-employed.”
Changing to self-employed status saves bosses money as they don’t pay National Insurance on your wage or give you holiday pay, sick pay or maternity pay. Check your employment status. If you think you’re an employee, you should be treated like one.
“You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own National Insurance contributions.”
Being asked to pay your own National Insurance or to go self-employed when there’s been no change in your contract are clear-cut signs of bogus self-employment, where your boss tries to claim you’re self-employed when you’re not.
“You were travelling between clients – so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”
Every employee is entitled to the national minimum wage, and you should be paid for all of the time you spend at work. HMRC can help resolve problems with underpayment and Citizens Advice can guide you on the next steps.
“You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”
“You’re having a baby next year? We’ll need to take you off that important project now.”
Your working arrangements during pregnancy should stay the same unless you ask for a change; any change your employer tries to impose on you is discrimination.
“We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”
This isn’t always true – some workers are entitled to redundancy pay. If you’ve been working for your employer for two years or more and do at least one shift a week, you should receive redundancy pay. Citizens Advice can help you work out if you qualify.
“We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take a holiday.”
If your employer needs you to take a holiday, you should get twice as much notice as the length of holiday needed. If you aren’t given the proper amount of notice, you should be paid and not asked to use leave. Speak to ACAS if a discussion with your employer about this doesn’t work.
“You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”
Agency workers should be paid sick pay by the agency. You can check through Citizens Advice to find out what to do next.
“We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”
If you’ve already agreed to work the hours and you’ve been absent long enough to qualify, you should get sick pay.
“Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”
How to tackle work-based problems
Citizens Advice outlines the basic steps on how to deal with your troublesome employer:
- Talk to your boss – any discrepancies could come from honest mistakes or a misunderstanding of the law. Ask a colleague or union representative to join you if you don’t feel confident;
- Keep any evidence including letters, payslips, emails and texts and make a note of conversations you’ve had which could be used to support your case;
- If the issue isn’t resolved with an informal conversation, raise a written grievance. This should give you the chance to discuss your issue formally;
- Getting nowhere? The last step is to speak to Citizens Advice, your Trade Union or to ACAS. Options might include using dispute resolution to liaise with your employer, or to go to an employment tribunal.