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Working Conditions: What Regulations do UK Employers Need to Follow?

The working environment is made up of different factors that can dictate the employee experience in the workplace. This includes working hours, pay and health and safety, amongst others. The quality of an employee’s working environment is the responsibility of the employer.

But what are the regulations in place and why are these important?

1: Regulations

Examples of legislation in place across different workplaces include:

  • Equality Act 2010
  • Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • National Minimum Wage Act 1998
  • Working Time Regulations 1998
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

As we will cover in more detail, there are several areas within a working environment that have prompted the need for legislation like this.

2: Working hours

The maximum hours an individual should work is 48 hours a week on average. This is dictated by a law referred to as the ‘working time directive’ or ‘working time regulations’. Legally, workers are entitled to rest breaks at work – in other words, a 20-minute, uninterrupted break, such as a lunch break.

‘Daily rest’ refers to an employee’s right to 11 hours of rest between working days, while weekly rest involves an uninterrupted 24 hours without any work each week, or 48 hours each fortnight. There are some exceptions to these conditions depending on the type of work involved.

3: Health and safety

Health and safety legislation is put in place to protect workers’ health and wellbeing. This includes the Health and Safety at Work etc Act of 1974, which includes the management of risks and hazards at work, the need to report accidents and illness and the preparation of a health and safety policy.

Some industries will require a more rigorous health and safety policy. Employers are responsible for everything from providing equipment such as Milwaukee heated jackets to employees working in cold temperatures to prevent hypothermia to providing and monitoring wearing equipment like hard hats.

4: Disability and accessibility

Extra caution needs to be given to any workers with disabilities or accessibility restraints. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 demands that employers protect workers from the risk of injury at work, so far as is reasonably practical. This law includes disabled workers and visitors. Risk assessment should reflect this and facilities such as fully functioning lifts and ramps should be installed.

The Equality Act 2010 is a more recent piece of legislation with requirements that address any disadvantage or discrimination. According to the Equality Act, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative affect on someone’s ability to do normal daily activities.

5: Salary and pay

Employers are required by law to pay their workers at least the statutory minimum pay per hour that they are entitled to. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is used as a guide and presents the minimum pay per hour payable for those aged 25 or below. Meanwhile, the National Living Wage (NLW) is paid to the majority of workers aged 23 or over.

The only deductions employers can make include deductions for income tax or other statute requirements. Alternatively, if the employee has authorised a deduction or there is a change in the employee’s contract. Employers must pay their staff on time otherwise; this is a criminal office.

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