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5 amazing facts about UK Employment Law

At Ware & Kay Solicitors our lawyers are vastly experienced in helping employers and employees navigate the diverse and dynamic beast that is UK employment law. Over the years this area of law has been moulded by various governments, regulatory agencies and of course EU Law.

We find most employers and employees have a basic understanding of their day to day rights and responsibilities in this regard. However, in this article we thought it would be useful to share our top 5 examples of where UK employment law often leaves our client’s amazed. So, without further ado, make sure you have your coffee at your side and your biscuit in hand as we navigate our top 5!


It is commonly understood and quite right that women who are pregnant or on maternity leave are afforded protection in the form of enhanced employment law. However did you know that the right to a statutory maternity payment is so enshrined within UK employment law that it is even payable where the employee is dismissed for gross misconduct?

Once the eligibility criteria for statutory maternity pay is met the employee is entitled to receive it for up to 39 weeks. This is even if the employee is made redundant, leaves the job, is dismissed for gross misconduct or if a fixed term contract comes to an end at any time after the 15th week before the baby is due.


Sick leave is an area that affects both employers and employees. Statutory sick pay is payable for up to 28 weeks and is currently paid at £99.35 per week. However, did you know that if an employee comes back to work for 8 full weeks having been off sick for 28 weeks then he/she would be entitled to a renewed 28 weeks?


Most employers know that there is a right for employees to be accompanied at disciplinaries and grievances by a Trade Union representative or colleague. However, if the employee needs to reasonably delay the meeting in order to assert that right then the employer must apply a statutory delay of up to 5 working days. A failure by an employer to do so would be express breach of legal provisions contained within the Employment Rights Act 1999.


Employees on maternity leave and adoption leave are entitled to work up to 10 keeping in touch days without their maternity leave being brought to an end or their statutory pay affected. It would only be in exceptional circumstances, however, strictly speaking there is no obligation on an employer to accept any request.


The Working Time Regulations 1998 apply a 48 hour working week limit for workers. However did you know that any breach is calculated over a 17 week reference period? Therefore an employee could in fact work over 48 hours a week (even without a signed opt out agreement) so long as this was not worked consistently so as to bring the average over 48 hours in any given 17 weeks.

The legal bit: All the above ‘facts’ should be considered in context. Employment law is a minefield and the slightest change in circumstances could impact any of the above rules. At Ware & Kay we would be happy to discuss your particular situation, whether you are a business owner or an employee. We could even provide the coffee and biscuit!

Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this legal loophole mind bender!

Contact our amazing employment team (Fact!) on York 01904 716000, Wetherby 01937 583210 or Malton 01653 692247.


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