June 7, 2024

FAQs For Employment Law

This post was written by: Riya Sekhon

What is employment law?

  • Governs the relationship between employers and employees, covering a wide range of issues such as hiring, working conditions, wages, benefits, and termination.

What are my basic rights as an employee?

  • Employees have a right to:
  • A safe and healthy working environment
  • Fair wages (in line with current legislation) and equal pay for equal work
  • Protection from discrimination and harassment in the workplace
  • Entitlement to family and medical leave & pay
  • Annual leave
  • Minimum notice periods
  • Protection from unfair dismissal

What constitutes unfair dismissal?

  • Termination of employment is only fair if;
    • it follows a fair process;
    • is on the basis of one of the accepted reasons (conduct, capability, redundancy or some other substantial reason); and
    • is not due to an automatically unfair reason (for instance discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic or being a member of a trade union etc).
    •  Employees generally need 2 full years employment before they can make a claim (unless an exception applies)

What is workplace discrimination?

  • Workplace discrimination involves unfair treatment of employees based on protected characteristics (including race, colour, sex and/or gender re-assignment, religion, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy or maternity or sexual orientation).
    • Discrimination can affect hiring, promotions, job assignments, and other employment conditions.
    • Discrimination based on a protected characteristic is unlawful and termination on such grounds is automatically unfair.

What is harassment in the workplace?

  • Workplace harassment includes any unwelcome conduct based on one of the protected characteristics that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment for instance is a common form of harassment.

What should I do if I believe I am being discriminated against or harassed at work?

  • If you believe you are experiencing discrimination or harassment, you should:
    • Document the incidents in detail, keeping notes of dates and times and if there were any witnesses
    • Report the behaviour to your supervisor/line manager or HR department as soon as possible
    • Follow your company’s procedure for handling such complaints, usually detailed within a grievance policy.
  • Your employer should treat the matter seriously by investigating and discussing the issues with you, following its grievance procedure and give you a decision or outcome of the grievance in writing

Can my employer change my job description or duties?

  • Yes, employers can generally change an employee’s job description or duties, but significant changes should be communicated clearly and may require employee consent, especially if the changes affect pay, status, or working conditions.

Are non-compete clauses in an agreement enforceable?

  • Contracts of employment often have non-compete clauses (or restrictive covenants).   It is a common misconception that such clauses are not enforceable.
    • Restrictive covenants must be reasonable in scope, duration, and geography to be enforceable.  They must not go further than is necessary in order to protect an employer’s business and any clauses which are a restraint of trade could be deemed as too wide.
    • What is considered reasonable will be dependant on the circumstances of each case and a judge will decide on the facts.