Your rights when off work

Knowing what protected rights you have as an employee can help you if you need to take time off work because of your health.

Statutory rights

Statutory rights are legal rights that nearly all workers, regardless of the number of hours they work, will have.

Some of your statutory rights include:

  • being paid at least the national minimum wage;
  • having paid holidays;
  • the right not to be discriminated against.

You can find information about your statutory rights in AdviceNow.

Contractual rights

In addition to your statutory rights, you may have rights under your contract of employment.

If your contract gives you greater rights than you have under law, then your contract applies, but your contract of employment cannot take away rights you have by law.

Your rights and sickness

As an employee, you are normally entitled to:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re off work because of your health. You might also be entitled to contractual sick pay if this has been written into your contract;
  • take sick leave while on holiday and take paid holidays while on sick leave;
  • claim Employment and Support Allowance if your employer stops paying sick pay.

Your contract of employment should make it clear what rights you have and how these differ from your statutory rights, if at all.

What can I do if I think my rights aren’t being respected?

If you don’t think your employer is respecting your rights, you should always try to sort it out informally to begin with. Talk to your employer about your grievance and ask them for an explanation. If you can’t work out your problems by talking to your employer, you should consider:

  • raising a grievance against your employer;
  • taking your case to an employment tribunal.

Raising a grievance

Your employer should have a grievance procedure in place so that you can escalate problems. This usually involves:

  • sending a written statement describing the problems and the actions you have taken to resolve them with your employer;
  • arranging a formal meeting with your employer to discuss this statement;
  • appealing against your employer’s decision if you’re not happy with it.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, or if you’re still unhappy with the outcome, you can take your case to an employment tribunal.

Visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website for further information on dealing with grievances at work (England and Wales).

Employment tribunals

Employment tribunals are legal bodies that investigate, and judge, grievances around employment rights.

You should take your case to a tribunal if you feel your statutory or contractual rights have not been respected and you have been unable to sort it out with your employer through a grievance procedure.

Find out more about employment tribunals through GOV.UK.