Business Law & Compliance

6 employment law myths busted

3 min read

03 July 2014

Here is the truth about six common workplace misconceptions.

1. If there is no written contract then the employee has no rights

Even without a contract, ALL employees have certain legal rights, such as being entitled to receive National Minimum Wage, the right to claim unfair dismissal and protection from discrimination. After being employed for one month, they then gain the right to minimum notice.

2. It is possible to fire someone for gross misconduct without following proper procedures

If an employee has been employed for two years they acquire unfair dismissal rights. However, many employers believe that it is safe to dismiss someone with less than two years’ service without following the ACAS Code. Regardless of their length of service, employers should follow fair procedures.

3. You can’t dismiss employees on long-term sick leave

Even if the sickness is certified by a doctor, and depending on the nature of the job, it is possible for employers to dismiss employees if they are unlikely to return to work within a reasonable time. Before this can be done, however, employers need to investigate the sickness and contact the employee regarding whether they think the job should be held open for longer.

4. An employee who has been given notice or has been with the company for less than two years cannot raise an unfair dismissal claim

An employee at the end of a fixed-term contract has exactly the same unfair dismissal rights as permanent staff. Furthermore, it is possible for those working less than two years to raise an unfair dismissal claim in situations such as excercising certain statutory rights and dismissal for whistleblowing.

5. Pregnant employees, or those on maternity leave, cannot be dismissed

If employees leave due to pregnancy or maternity leave, they are by no means safe from dismissal. However, it is important that the dismissal is not due to their gender or current situation as it would lead to an automatic unfair dismissal and you could risk being taken to court.

6. Parents have the right to work part-time

Technically, no employee has the right to work part-time. Employees with children under the age of 17, with more than 26 weeks’ service with their current employer, DO have the right to submit a flexible working application though. Recent rules also now grant workers with more than six months’ continuous service the right to request flexible working as well.