Everyone who is employed by a business, individual or organisation has certain rights as an employee. These include:
- paid holiday (annual leave)
- being paid at least the National Minimum Wage
- Statutory Sick Pay if you are ill
- time off to care for family or dependents
- Maternity Leave or Paternity Leave if you're having a baby
- fair treatment from your employer
- being able to join a trade union
If you have a disability, or are a carer, there are other rights that you should be aware of.
The Equality Act protects your employment rights on the grounds of age, disability, gender identity and gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership (in employment only), pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
You are defined as having a disability under the act if you have a long-term health problem (for more than one year) which has substantial effects on your day-to-day activities.
The act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or potential employees on any of these grounds. This includes protection from unfair discrimination in:
- Training opportunities
- Job offers
It also protects you from being harassed or victimised in the workplace because of your disability.
You can find out more on our main page on The Equality Act.
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers must make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or to how the role is carried out so that any person with a disability (as defined by the Equalty Act 2010) will not be at a disadvantage. What adjustments are considered reasonable will vary depending on the organisation and the needs of the individual, and relies on the individual being open with the employer about what they need. Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:
- Being flexible with your hours of work
- Providing special equipment such as adjustable height desks
- Placing you in a better-suited environment
- Making adjustments to the building you work in - for example accessible toilets, or grab rails to help you to move around safely
If your condition or illness prevents you from doing your job well, or makes it more difficult than most, you may want to tell your employer about it. If you tell your employer, under the Equality Act 2010 they will not be able to discriminate against you based on your disability. You're not obliged to tell your employer about a disability or health condition if you don't want to, but by telling them about any challenges you face, you allow them to make any reasonable adjustments that could help you with your work.
For some illnesses (such as diabetes or epilepsy) it can also be useful for your co-workers and employers to know what to do in an emergency situation.
To get the support you need, you should be as open as possible with your employer and be clear about what you need.
If you feel your employer or a co-worker is discriminating against you based on your disability or if you feel reasonable adjustments aren't being made, you should contact your trade union, human resource department, occupational health department or your local Citizen's Advice Bureau.
You may also find it useful to look at our page on Obtaining legal advice.
As a carer of an adult who lives in the same home as you, is married to you or is a close relative, you have the right to request flexible working hours. Although your employer is not guaranteed to approve your request, they must provide business reasons for why the request is denied. Flexible working hours could mean compressing your hours into fewer days, working from home some days or starting and finishing at more flexible times.
You are also covered by the Equality Act 2010 which prevents any unfair treatment in matters such as recruitment, wages, training opportunities or redundancy. As a carer you also have the right to unpaid time off in the case of an emergency with the dependent.
You can go to our section on Balancing care with work and education for more information.
If you think you need to take legal action in relation to an employment issue then you can get more information on our Obtaining legal advice page.
The Disability Law Service is a professional organisation run by disabled people which offers support and advice on employment rights and other legal issues for people with disabilities. It aims to demystify the legal system by giving concise and timely legal advice and information.
Disability Rights UK provide various work-related fact-sheets with advice on finding a job, and on claiming the right benefits if you are out of work or on a low income.
The Citizens Advice Bureau website provides information on various work-related issues.
The Disability Confident scheme is a government-led scheme which supports employers to make the most of the talents disabled people can bring to the workplace, helping them think differently about disability, and improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled worker
Action on Hearing Loss provide work-based assessments which enable employers to make adjustments to the work place to support employees with hearing loss.
Age UK offer information and advice on age discrimination and your rights in the workplace.
If you would like to receive independent advice on employment and work, money and benefits, accessing care and support, legal issues, housing, your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact the Westminster CAB
Kensington and Chelsea
Nucleus offer confidential and free legal advice and assistance to people living in Kensington and Chelsea on a variety of issues, including on employment rights.