It is crucial for everyone to fully understand the rights you have as an employee. It is easy for employers to take advantage, to give less holiday then you are entitled to or attempt to pay you below the legal recommendations. Not only is this incredibly unfair and can make you, as an employee unhappy in your working environment but it is also illegal. Everyone needs to have even a basic understanding of the things you are entitled to, this ensures you are happy and healthy in your work and makes sure your employer stays legal.

There are 5 areas in particular that every employee needs to understand:

1. Break and Lunch Allowances

The length of your break and lunch times depend on three factors; the hours you work in one day, the type of work you do and your age. Everyone that works over 6 hours are entitled to an interrupted break that lasts for a minimum of 20 minutes. It is at employer’s discretion if they wish to give slightly longer breaks but they must adhere to the minimum requirements.

  • Aged 18+ and working 6 hours and over in one shift are entitled to a 20 minute rest break
  • Aged under 18 and working 4.5 hours and over in one shift are entitled to a 30 minute rest break
  • Lunch breaks tend to be unpaid if a full hour is taken

2. Rate of Pay

The National Minimum Wage is the guidelines by which every employee should be paid. It is the very minimum rate at which people should be paid; this is updated on a yearly basis to fall in line with the cost of living. It is the law to pay at least the National Minimum Wage. The minimum wage depends on the age of the employer and the level at which they work in a company.

3. Holiday Entitlement

Every employee accrues paid holiday days that they are able to take within a company’s tax year. For those that work a 5-day week, 5.6 weeks of holiday is accrued which is the equivalent to 28 working days. Bank holidays or public holidays do not have to be paid days and can be deducted from the overall holiday entitlement.

  • Paid leave is an obligation
  • Employees can still accrue holiday whilst on authorised leave
  • Holiday leave can still be accrued whilst on sick leave
  • Holiday days are able to be taken rather than sick leave

4. Working hours

It is important that employers distribute the working hours evenly to prevent people becoming overworked, which is illegal. Employers are now turning to shift scheduling software ( to ensure employees work the legal amount of hours.

  • 11 hours of rest is necessary between shifts
  • 24 hours rest per working week is a legal requirement OR 48 hours rest per fortnight
  • Young workers need a daily rest of 12 hours between shifts and a weekly rest of 48 hours

5. Health and Safety

When starting a new job, employers are obligate to discuss the health and safety aspects of the company such as the way to lift if applicable or where the fire exits are located. Employees need to be safe at work and not do anything, which will jeopardise their physical well-being or ability to complete their job.


Basic rights at work (Citizens Advice Bureau)

Your rights at work and trade unions (UK Government)