Employment Rights After 2 Years – The Facts
It’s a little known fact that new employees must work continuously for an employer before they are given full employment rights. This means that employees are not entitled to statutory redundancy pay and cannot normally bring a claim for unfair dismissal until they have worked with the company for two years. But what are the employment rights after 2 years and are there any exceptions to these rules?
In this article, we’ll explain everything there is to know about employment rights, both within and after the two-year qualifying period. We’ll also discuss the exceptions to this, including when an unfair dismissal claim can be brought within the first two years of employment.
How Long Do You Have To Be In A Job To Have Rights?
When you start a new job as an employee, you are automatically entitled to certain employment rights and protection. However, the employee won’t gain full employment rights until they have worked with the company continuously for two years. These first two years of employment are known as the qualifying period. Once the employee has completed this qualifying service, they will then be entitled to full employment rights and protection.
But what rights is an employee entitled to straight away, and what protection do they gain after the two year qualifying period? Read on to find out.
Why Don’t Employees Get Full Rights For Two Years?
So, you know now that employees don’t gain their full employment rights in the UK until after two years of continuous service, but what is the reason for this?
In fact, this rule didn’t come into force until 6 April 2012, when the qualifying period was first introduced. The reason for this was that the UK was being heavily impacted by the global recession, which led to unemployment hitting 8.4% by late 2011. The UK government was looking for a solution to drive recruitment and decided to give employers higher levels of flexibility in an attempt to increase employment levels.
Let’s take a look what employment law now says about employee rights, from the day an employee is hired until the day that they decide to resign or are dismissed.
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Employment Rights From Day One
Although there is a two year qualifying period, there are many statutory rights and protections that an employee is entitled to from their very first day of employment. These are rights that every employee is entitled to, regardless of their profession, industry or length of service.
Employment rights from day one include:
- Pay rights
- Reasonable hours and rest breaks
- Paid and unpaid leave
- Equality rights
- Health and safety rights
Let’s take a look at these rights in more detail.
Every UK employee, regardless of their length of service, is entitled to certain rights when it comes to pay. This includes:
- Receiving at least the national minimum wage.
- Receiving an itemised payslip to show gross pay, deductions including income tax and national insurance, and net pay.
- Protection from unauthorised deductions from their wages.
Reasonable Hours And Rest Breaks
Employees are entitled to an unpaid break of at least 20 minutes every six hours. Employers must also allow the employee a rest break of at least 11 hours in every 24 hour period. Finally, employees must be given one day off in every 14 as a rest day. These rules apply from the first day of employment, with no qualifying period required.
Paid And Unpaid Leave
Every employee in the UK is legally entitled to both paid and unpaid leave. The minimum paid annual leave is 28 days for a full time employee. Providing that an employee pays national insurance, they will also be entitled to claim statutory sick pay after four consecutive days of being off work for sickness.
All employees are also entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave or adoption leave, as well as paid time off to attend antenatal appointments.
Finally, every employee is entitled to unpaid time off work in the case of unexpected family emergencies, from the very first day of their employment.
In the UK, there are strict rights when it comes to equality and discrimination, which every employee is entitled to from the beginning of their employment. These rights include:
- Protection from discrimination, harassment and victimisation as a result of protected characteristics.
- Equal pay to employees of each sex who are performing the same or similar job roles.
- To treat both permanent and fixed term employees equally in terms of training, pay and benefits.
- To treat both part time and full time workers equally.
Health And Safety Rights
Irrespective of length of employment, every employee is entitled to receive protection in terms of health and safety, as set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This means that the employer should take any steps reasonable to ensure an employee’s health and safety whilst at work.
When Do You Get More Rights At Work?
On top of the statutory employment rights set out in the last section, employees will gradually be entitled to more employment rights as their length of service increases. Let’s take a look at the employment rights you’ll gain after one month, six months and one year of service.
Employment Rights After One Month
Once an employee has been employed for one month, they will gain additional employment rights. These include:
- The right to be paid if suspended on medical grounds.
- The right to be given at least a week’s notice of dismissal (or more if the contract of employment entitles it).
- The right to be paid statutory lay off if you are laid off or put on short-time working.
Employment Rights After 26 Weeks
Employment rights increase again after 26 weeks of continuous employment, giving the employee more family-friendly rights. The rights that an employee gains after 26 weeks of employment include:
- The right to request flexible working. This does not necessarily need to be granted but must be considered by the employer.
- The right to take paternity or shared parental leave.
- The right to ask for time off for training (if the employer has more than 250 employees).
Employment Rights After One Year
Once an employee has been employed by a company for one year, they are entitled to take unpaid parental leave. An employee is legally entitled to up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child, which must be taken before the child’s 18th birthday.
Employment Rights Gained After Two Years Of Service
We’ve discussed the employment rights that employees are entitled to on their first day of working for an employer, as well as the rights that they gain after one month, six months and one year of service. But what employment rights are gained after two years?
There are several employment rights that only apply after an employee has completely two years of continuous service. These rights include:
- Unfair dismissal
- Statutory redundancy pay
- Written reason for dismissal
Let’s take a look at each of these two-year employment rights in more detail.
When an employee reaches two years of continuous service, they gain the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. This right protects the employee from having their contract terminated without a valid reason, or without following the correct procedure.
If an employee is dismissed shortly before the two year cut off, the employment tribunal is able to add your statutory notice period to your length of service to prevent employers from deliberately preventing an employee from making a claim.
However, there are some situations where a claim can be made without the two year qualifying period having been served. These include:
- Dismissal as a result of an application for flexible working.
- Dismissal related to National Minimum Wage.
- Dismissal due to a health and safety reason.
- Dismissal connected to whistleblowing.
- Dismissal related to maternity or paternity.
- Dismissal related to the Working Time Regulations.
These are rights from the first day of employment, so an unfair dismissal claim can be made under these circumstances without the two year qualifying period being satisfied.
Statutory Redundancy Pay
Employees who have worked for their employer for a minimum of two years are entitled to statutory redundancy pay if they are dismissed due to redundancy. The amount that an employee will be paid for redundancy is calculated based on their age, salary and length of service. This statutory payment is capped, although the maximum level is reviewed annually and typically changes each year.
Some employers may have their own redundancy policy. Within this policy, they may choose to pay redundancy payments to employees with less than two years of service. However, this is dependent on the individual company, and we’d always advise employees to check their contracts and company policy.
Written Reason For Dismissal
If an employee is dismissed with two or more years of service, they have the right to request written reasons for their dismissal. If an employee requests a written statement, the employer must supply this within 14 days of the request being made.
However, if an employee is dismissed whilst on Statutory Maternity Leave, they must be supplied with a written statement of dismissal regardless of their length of service. This should be provided without the employee requesting the statement and should not take into account the employee’s length of service.
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Can Employees Make Employment Claims In Their First Two Years?
Unfortunately, some businesses see employees with less than two years of service as ‘low hanging fruit’, who can be dismissed easily without repercussions. This is because employees required two years of continuous services before they can bring a claim of unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
However, there are certain circumstances where a claim can be made, either for unfair dismissal or other reasons, without two years of service being required. These situations may sometimes be referred to as day one claims.
Claims that can be made from the beginning of employment include:
- Automatically unfair dismissal
- Breach of contract
Can You Dismiss An Employee After Two Years?
Employees can be dismissed at any point during their employment. However, the employer should always have a valid reason for dismissal, which could include conduct, capability, redundancy, or a legal reason. If an employee is dismissed without a sound reason, it could amount to unfair dismissal which may lead to a claim in the employment tribunal.
During the two year qualifying period, employees cannot bring a claim of unfair dismissal except in specific circumstances. However, after two years of service, an employee is able to make a claim against their employer for unfair dismissal.
Can You Claim Discrimination Under Two Years?
Employment discrimination means discriminating against an employee based on a protected characteristic, such as race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Employees are protected against discrimination from their first day at work, so a claim can be made for discrimination no matter how long the employee has been working at the company.
Who Qualifies For Unfair Dismissal?
There are certain criteria that a person must meet before they are able to qualify to claim unfair dismissal. Firstly, they must be employed rather than working through an agency. They must also have at least two years of continuous employment, unless the unfair dismissal is classed as an automatically unfair reason such as being pregnant, requesting time off for jury service or taking action over a health and safety issue.
To Sum Up
Whilst some employment rights, such as the right to claim for unfair dismissal, are not given to employees until they have completed two years of continuous service, there are many employment rights that apply from the first day of employment. Employers should be careful to fulfil their legal obligations when it comes to protecting their employees, whilst avoiding any potential for claims such as unfair dismissal.
If you are thinking of making a claim against your employer and are looking for advice on the two year employment rights, our expert team of employment solicitors are on hand to help. Give us a call today for expert advice and to find out whether you have a case.
Send us a message or call us on 01744 744400 for friendly advice.
Posted on: 28/Aug/2021 Posted in: Employment Law