Comparative Guides

Welcome to Mondaq Comparative Guides - your comparative global Q&A guide.

Our Comparative Guides provide an overview of some of the key points of law and practice and allow you to compare regulatory environments and laws across multiple jurisdictions.

Start by selecting your Topic of interest below. Then choose your Regions and finally refine the exact Subjects you are seeking clarity on to view detailed analysis provided by our carefully selected internationally recognised experts.

4. Results: Answers
Labour and Employment
Employment rights and representations
What, if any, are the rights to parental leave, at either a national or local level?

Answer ... Parents and adoptive parents benefit from paid leave on the birth or adoption of a child. Maternity or adoption leave is open to employed qualifying parents. This is a right from the first day of employment. Fathers, same-sex partners and secondary adopters are also entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave. In addition, shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 to offer flexibility to parents and adoptive parents as to how they take leave in the first year after the child is born or placed for adoption. Shared parental leave effectively allows parents to share the statutory maternity or adoption leave and pay that is available to mothers under the maternity and adoption provisions.

After one year’s employment, each parent is also entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave. This is per child and can be taken between the child’s birth and his or her 18th birthday.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
How long does it last and what benefits are given during this time?

Answer ... Statutory maternity and adoption leave of up to one year can be taken (39 weeks of which are paid). Whether an employed woman is entitled to statutory maternity pay is more complicated and will depend on how long she has worked for her employer at the point she is expecting the child. If so entitled, statutory maternity/adoption pay is paid at 90% of average earnings for the first six weeks and then a flat statutory rate for the remaining 33 weeks. This rate changes annually in April and from April 2019 increased to £148.68. The primary adopter in any couple or a single adopter is entitled to the same rights to statutory leave and pay as a woman on maternity leave.

Paternity leave is paid at the flat statutory rate for two weeks.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
Are trade unions recognised and what rights do they have?

Answer ... Trade unions play a significant role in employee relations in the United Kingdom, in both the public and the private sector. They negotiate terms and conditions with employers on behalf of employees, seek recognition from employers to represent employees, provide legal and sometimes financial assistance and services to their members, and campaign for social and political change.

A trade union may be voluntarily recognised by an employer. There is no single way in which this has to happen; it is a matter of whether the employer agrees to such recognition and what it and the trade union agree the trade union is recognised to bargain over.

If a trade union has been refused recognition voluntarily and the workforce has 21 or more employees, the trade union can apply for statutory recognition from the Central Arbitration Committee, an independent statutory body. There is a complicated statutory process for making a request for recognition.

A trade union that is recognised by an employer acquires further rights, including the ability to negotiate collective bargaining arrangements on behalf of a group of workers and for its workplace representatives to be eligible for time off to carry out trade union duties. Trade union representatives may negotiate with employers on behalf of their members on pay and other conditions (eg, working hours and holidays), be informed of and consulted with about redundancies, and accompany members to disciplinary and grievance meetings.

Trade unions also have the ability to call for industrial action (including organising strike action). They are subject to a complicated process for balloting their members and over the subject of the collective dispute if they wish to avoid being legally liable to the employer and third parties affected by the action. Most commonly, a trade union organising a strike induces workers to break their contracts of employment, which the trade union can be sued for unless it has complied with these legal duties.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
How are data protection rules applied in the workforce and how does this affect employees’ privacy rights?

Answer ... There are no employment-specific privacy laws in the United Kingdom; rather, the United Kingdom’s data protection regime (principally embodied in the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018) applies to any data processing which takes place within the employment context in the same way as it does to other commercial data processing activities.

Accordingly, employers, as data controllers, will need to comply with the data protection principles when handling employees’ personal data and, among other things, ensure that they:

  • have a legal basis for their data processing activities;
  • store employee records in a secure manner;
  • keep employee records up to date and for no longer than necessary, and have clear guidelines regarding applicable retention periods; and
  • inform employees about what personal data they collect, why they collect it, who it is collected from and who it is shared with.

When conducting employee monitoring within the workplace, employers must have regard to this statutory framework, as well as the guidance and codes of practice issued by the information commissioner and the implied term of trust and confidence. Accordingly, it is important for an employer to consider whether to undertake a data privacy impact assessment before conducting any employee monitoring activities and to publicise any systematic monitoring it does conduct.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
Are contingent worker arrangements specifically regulated?

Answer ... There is no concept of a ‘contingent worker’ under UK law. However, various types of atypical working arrangements may be implemented, including the use of`;

  • fixed-term employees (ie, employees engaged for a defined period);
  • agency workers (ie, individuals who are employed by an agency and assigned to end-user clients for specific engagements); and
  • zero-hour contract workers (ie, workers who are engaged on an ad hoc basis with no guarantee of work).

Atypical workers such as these will still benefit from the applicable statutory and contractual protections outlined in question 1 if they meet the relevant employment status test.

These atypical working arrangements are also specifically regulated, to differing extents, including as follows:

  • Fixed-term employees are protected against less favourable treatment compared to permanent employees and the non-renewal of a fixed term contract constitutes dismissal for the purposes of a claim for unfair dismissal.
  • Agency workers have various ‘day 1’ and ‘week 12’ rights, such as the right to the same basic pay and working conditions as permanent employees after the twelfth week of their engagement.
  • Zero-hour contracts have been the subject of much parliamentary scrutiny and additional protections are due to come into force over the next couple of years, including the right to request a predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service.

For more information about this answer please contact: Alex Lock from DAC Beachcroft LLP
Labour and Employment