15 February 2016
What is the Difference Between a Contractual and a Statutory Employment Right?
Employees possess all sorts of rights that connect in some way to their relationship with their employers.
Contractual rights derive from your contract of employment, but they do not necessarily have to be stated in writing in your contract or even verbally.
A contract of employment is an agreement made between an employer and an employee. The agreement can be a verbal or a written one.
Contractual rights will usually include express rights (the right to payment of salary, the right to holiday entitlement, the right to notice of termination of employment etc.) and implied rights (the right to be treated in a manner consistent with mutual trust and confidence).
Sometimes contractual rights arise from “custom and practice” as well as what is written into the contract.
Common Law Rights
Employers have a duty of care to their employees. If employers breach their duty of care it can give employees a claim under the law of negligence. The most common example of this in the employment context is personal injury claims.
These are rights which are given to employees by Parliament and set out in primary or secondary legislation. They include the following:
- The right not to be unfairly dismissed. This is usually only available to employees with at least two years’ service.
- The right to a statutory redundancy payment. This is only available to employees with at least two years' service.
- The right not to suffer unauthorised deductions from wages.
- The right not to be discriminated against. Discrimination on the following grounds is prohibited: sex, maternity, marital status, gender reassignment, racial origin, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, age etc.
- The right to receive the minimum wage.
- Protection against unfair treatment or dismissal for whistleblowing, trade union membership or union activities.
- Various maternity and paternity rights.
Some rights that are covered by contract and also by statutory rights will overlap.
- Some employees may have the benefit of a contractual period of notice that is longer than the statutory minimum period of notice.
- Some employees may have the benefit of a contractual holiday entitlement that is more generous than the statutory minimum period of holiday.
- The law entitles employees to a statutory minimum redundancy payment if they are made redundant, and there is a statutory formula for calculating it, but some employees may be entitled to a contractual redundancy payment based on a more generous formula.
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