The Basics of Employment Law

Knowing the basics of employment law is important. Whether you are looking for your first job, coming back to employment after a period of time away or have been settled in a job for a number of years; you need to know your rights. This article will cover the basics of the most frequently questioned areas of employment law.

Minimum Wage

One of the more popular questions in relation to employment law is ‘What is the National Minimum Wage?’, the answer to this question is – it depends. The minimum wage that you are entitled to depends largely on your circumstances.

The first thing to clarify is that to qualify for the national minimum wage, you must be of school leaving age.

If you are of school leaving age but younger than 18, the current minimum wage is 3.72 per hour.

If you are aged between 18 and 20, the current minimum wage is 5.03 per hour.

If you are aged 21 or over, the current minimum wage is 6.31 per hour.

It is worth noting that the minimum wage alters each year and that these figures are correct at the time of writing (16th May 2013).

Apprentices have a separate minimum wage; it is currently set at 2.68 per hour. This rate is for apprentices under 19 or apprentices in their first year.

Holiday Rights

Holiday/annual leave is another topic that is frequently questioned.

The vast majority of workers are entitled to annual leave – or holiday. Currently, the statutory minimum for annual leave is 5.6 weeks. This is calculated by multiplying working hours by 5.6.

For example, an employee that works a regular 5 day week is entitled to 28 days annual leave per year. An employee that works part time – 2 days per week for example – would be entitled to 11.2 days leave per year.

Each employee is entitled to pay for annual holiday.

Employers have the right to offer more than the statutory minimum; however, they do not have to apply all of the rules to additional leave.

A worker working a 5-day week has a right to carry over up to 8 days leave from one year to the next. However, they do not have an automatic right to carry over any more than this, although it may be allowed in some cases.


‘They’ say that there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. In my experience, this seems to be true. Tax can be a confusing subject though and this section will explain the basics of tax likely to be deducted from your pay packet.

First off, it makes sense to point out the things that you can’t be taxed for. National Savings Certificates, the contents of an ISA account, winnings from premium bonds or the national lottery and the first 4,250 from a lodger in your home are all tax-free incomes. Each person also has a personal allowance for tax-free income, at the time of writing the amount is 9,440.

For all other sources of income and any amount above your personal allowance, you are likely to be liable for taxation.

The two common deductions are income tax and national insurance. Income tax is paid as a contribution to government spending on transport, education and health. National insurance is paid as a contribution to your entitlement to state pension and other social security benefits.

All deductions to pay will be displayed on your payslip.

Penningtons are a highly regarded commercial and private law firm. They have an expert employment team that will be able to assist in any case regarding employment law. For more information, please visit their website.