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Know your rights

Know your rights: Working Time Directive

The Working Time Directive limits the hours you work to an average of 48 over a 17-week period. However, many employers make workers sign an ‘opt-out’ that means they can be expected to work more than 48 hours a week.

What most bosses don’t tell you is that if you’ve signed this opt out, you can tell your employer that you want to opt back in. All you need to do is put it in writing. It will take effect in 7 days time unless a different period is specified in the original opt-out, up to a maximum of three months.

The employer has no right to sack you or take any disciplinary action for exercising this, or any other rights. If they do, going to an Employment Tribunal might force them to pay modest compensation.

Know your rights: Maternity Leave

A woman can take 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and and additional 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. The first 2 weeks maternity leave is compulsory, 4 weeks if the woman works in a factory.

At least 15 weeks before the child is expected (the qualifying week), a pregnant worker must tell her employer that she is pregnant, when the baby is due and when she intends to start her maternity leave. This can be changed, for example if the baby comes early. The employer must reply in writing setting out her expected date of return. If they don’t, she cannot be prevented from returning early and is protected from losing out if she returns later.

All pregnant workers are entitled to paid time off to attend ante-natal care. A woman is entitled to statutory maternity pay (SMP) if she has:

Know your rights: Immigration checks

Employers are required to ensure everyone they recruit has the right to work in the UK. They also have to check the documents of workers transferred to them under TUPE within 28 days. They can also check the documents of existing employees, but must avoid racial discrimination by singling out a particular racial, national or ethnic group or groups.

SLSF take to the streets of Lewisham in anti-workfare demo

On Saturday South London Solfed's roaming anti-workfare picket targeted businesses on Lewisham High Street exploiting unpaid labour.

Despite autumn choosing Saturday to finally arrive, a determined group took to the streets in support of Boycott Workfare's week of action. Marks & Spencer, Primark and Poundworld were all picketed, as well as Iceland who have reportedly signed up to the new 'Help To Work' scheme, the newest and most punitive version of workfare yet, involving six months' unpaid traineeships. Information leaflets were distributed to the public, including know your rights advice for those facing workfare placements. Despite the rain there were plenty of positive responses.

Brighton Solidarity - newsletter #3

July 10 public sector strike, stolen wage disputes at a restaurant and a greengrocer, and holiay pay.

Direct Action Solidarity newsletter #2

Launch of the BHW campaign, migrant worker experience, hotel cleaner wage dispute, and your rights when starting a new job.

Know Your Rights: Redundancy

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have predicted that 725,000 public sector jobs and up to 900,000 private sector jobs will go in the next five years, as a result of spending cuts and the VAT increase. While some will go through retirement and natural wastage, a lot more workers will be facing redundancy. Here is a brief guide to the law around it.

Redundancy happens when an employer ceases to carry on its business, or stops or diminishes some part of its business. The law covers England, Scotland and Wales, with different legislation in Northern Ireland, though its provisions are similar.

For a worker to be made redundant, their dismissal has to be attributable to the reduction in employees. It doesn’t need to be motivated by a company in difficulties, any reorganisation that results in fewer staff will be a redundancy.

What to do if you 'fail' your work capability assessment

Know your rights!

Some brief advice on the process of appealing a failed Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as well as some signposting to relevant advice bodies who may be able to assist you.


When you first receive the results of your ATOS WCA and it is a fail, the first thing that many do, as they are panicked and desperate, as they have had their money stopped, is to panic and phone the Job Centre Plus and ask about signing on for Jobseekers Allowance, which is what they want you to do, but there is an alternative and that is by asking for a reconsideration and/or appeal.

How to request reconsideration/appeal

Know Your Rights: Redundancy

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have predicted that 725,000 public sector jobs and up to 900,000 private sector jobs will go in the next five years, as a result of spending cuts and the VAT increase. While some will go through retirement and natural wastage, a lot more workers will be facing redundancy. Here is a brief guide to the law around it.

Redundancy happens when an employer ceases to carry on its business, or stops or diminishes some part of its business. The law covers England, Scotland and Wales, with different legislation in Northern Ireland, though its provisions are similar.

For a worker to be made redundant, their dismissal has to be attributable to the reduction in employees. It doesn’t need to be motivated by a company in difficulties, any reorganisation that results in fewer staff will be a redundancy.

Know Your Rights: trade union membership

You are protected against being fired or refused a job because of trade union membership or activities, including activities in the past. Your employer is not allowed to treat you any differently if you are a member of a trade union. This means that they must not pass you over for promotion or training opportunities, or treat you differently from non-union members in any way. The same right also applies in the unlikely event of discrimination in favour of union members.

In addition, you have the right to be accompanied by a union official in a disciplinary hearing. You can also have someone accompany you in a grievance hearing if the grievance relates to your terms and conditions of employment.

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