A-Z of Worker Help
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A - Z of Worker Help
ACAS provide information on employment rights and work issues generally, together with a confidential helpline, on their website.
Agency Worker Regulations (AWR)
The AWR give agency workers the entitlement to the same or no less favourable treatment for basic employment and working conditions, if they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in a particular job.
From the day you start work you have ‘worker’ employment rights. You also have the same rights as your permanent colleagues to use any shared facilities and services provided by the hirer. After 12 weeks in the job, you qualify for the same rights around things like pay and holiday as someone employed directly.
You can find information from GOV.UK on your rights as an agency worker.
To make a complaint to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (who enforce agency workers’ rights) use the online reporting form on GOV.UK.
JobsAware has some guidance explaining the main things to be aware of if you are an agency worker, including if you are asked to work through an umbrella company or limited company.
Guidance and a factsheet looking at pay, tax and benefit issues if you are an agency worker can be found on the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group's (LITRG) website.
Under the ‘auto-enrolment’ initiative, all agencies/employers have to automatically enrol certain staff into a pension scheme and make contributions towards it. Usually, the staff member will also have to make contributions to the pension scheme, which the government may top up with tax relief. You can read more about auto enrolment on the LITRG website.
If you believe that your agency/employer has failed to comply with their requirements under auto-enrolment then you can report this to The Pensions Regulator using the whistleblowing service.
In the UK you may be able to claim universal credit or state benefits while you are working, depending on your circumstances.
You should check your position using one of the benefits calculators set out on GOV.UK.
Advicelocal can help with benefits, work, money, housing problems and more on their website.
Bereavement Leave and Pay
Bereavement Leave is defined as time taken off from work following the death of a relative or friend.
You should be able to take leave if you need time to grieve, however there is no legal right for this leave to be paid, unless you qualify for parental bereavement leave for which you can find information below.
Find guidance from ACAS about general time off for bereavement.
Guidance from GOV.UK on parental bereavement leave can be found here.
See information from GOV.UK on your rights while on leave.
This LITRG page, provides links to a range of financial calculators that workers may find useful, provided by other websites.
To understand about cash in hand working, see the LITRG website (although the guidance is aimed at migrants, it applies more widely).
You can use the online form on GOV.UK to make a complaint about an agency or employer to an enforcement body, such as the GLAA or EAS.
If you are not sure whether to use the form or whether your complaint can be dealt with using this facility, you can contact JobsAware for guidance.
Alternatively, if you are a member of a trade union, you may wish to contact them, as they may be better placed to assist you with your complaint, further.
Construction industry work is often temporary and can involve long supply chains, agencies and umbrella companies.
If you work in the construction industry as a self-employed person, you will have Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) tax deducted at source from your wages – this does not mean that you are being treated as employed/have employment rights.
You can read more about the CIS tax regime on the LITRG website.
Note that if a construction worker sources work through an agency, then only if they are not under supervision, direction or control by any person (or the right thereof) should they be taxed under CIS (if they are under supervision, direction or control by any person - or the right thereof - then they should be taxed under PAYE).
A contract is a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.
Find information from GOV.UK on general employment contracts and conditions.
Find guidance from GOV.UK on how your employer can change your employment contract.
Find information from GOV.UK on Fixed-term contracts.
Find out about different types of contracts and employer responsibilities from GOV.UK.
Find the support available to workers and employers because of COVID-19 on GOV.UK.
In a dedicated section on their website, LITRG bring together their tax and related benefit guidance relating to COVID-19.
Citizens Advice offer free help on a wide range of issues, including work, employment rights, tax and benefit problems and debt. Their website can be found here.
A disability is a physical or mental condition that can limit a person's abilities. It is against the law in the UK for an employer to discriminate against a person because of their disability.
GOV.UK has a dedicated section on disabilities, giving information on the support available and rights of disabled people, including looking for work if you are disabled, disability rights, and specialist employability support.
In terms of other sources of support and guidance, Disability Rights UK have lots of help on employment for disabled people on their website, including a section of useful links and a series of work related factsheets. The NHS also has some useful information on work and disability.
Discrimination is the unfair treatment of a person because of who they are or characteristics they possess. It is against the law in the UK for an employer to discriminate against a person based on a number of 'protected characteristics'.
Find information from GOV.UK, on the different types of discrimination and your right not to be discriminated against in work.
In addition, you can find information from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the work they do to enforce equality across England, Scotland and Wales.
Disguised remuneration (DR) schemes (such as Contractor Loan Schemes) are arrangements that pay workers in ‘non-taxable’ elements, such as loans, grants, investments payments, advances etc., instead of ordinary employment income, to avoid tax and NIC.
DR schemes may be run by non-compliant umbrella companies. As the use of such schemes can be driven by their own motivations, umbrella company workers need to be extremely careful not to become entangled in DR arrangements.
Some possible warning signs of DR schemes are:
not receiving a payslip or receiving a payslip that shows a different ‘net’ amount to what you received;
perhaps receiving more than one payment into your bank account each pay period; and
information in your Personal Tax Account about your pay and taxes that does not match what you are being paid
HMRC are trying to warn people about the risks of such schemes including through its ‘Spotlight series’ e.g.
Establishing your employment status is crucial for determining whether you should pay tax under PAYE and your eligibility for certain employment law rights.
There are two statuses for tax purposes (employee and self-employed) and three for employment law purposes (employee, worker and self-employed).
You can read more about employment status in the JobsAware guidance.
An education worker is any worker whose job role impacts or influences the education of both young people and adults, including but not limited to, teachers, school administrators and school caterers.
Find information from GOV.UK on safe working in education, childcare and children's social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak.
There are three main labour market enforcement bodies – HMRC National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage (NMW/NLW), Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).
Beyond these, other bodies play an important role too. These include HMRC (tax) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as well as trade unions - you can read more about HSE Occupational Health and HMRC (tax) further into this A-Z. For information on the vital role played by trade unions, go to the TUC website.
Elective Deductions Model (EDM)
Under the EDM, an agency worker is treated as self-employed for employment law purposes and ‘elects’ to have ‘employee’ taxes deducted from their income and paid over under PAYE. This means that as far as HMRC are concerned, everything is fine.
Putting workers in EDM arrangements saves the agencies concerned money, however, is unlikely to benefit you in any way at all (in particular your key ‘worker’ rights like minimum wage and holiday pay are bypassed). As such, you should think very carefully about accepting such terms and conditions.
There is no single test to determine whether a person is an employee but you will generally be an employee if there is a 'master/servant' relationship. That is, you are required to work, personally, for someone (who is required to provide you with such work) and do that work under their control and in accordance with certain terms and conditions.
Employees have most protection under employment law and have their taxes and National Insurance contributions deducted at source by their employer under the PAYE system.
Employee and Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs)
If you are an employee, you pay Class 1 NIC on your earnings from employment, such as, salaries and bonuses. The amount you pay depends on how much you earn in a particular pay period. LITRG have more information about employee NIC on their website.
Your employer pays Class 1 NIC on your earnings too. Sometimes they will show the amounts that they have paid in employer NIC for your information on your payslip – they are not being deducted from your pay.
It is quite common for people who work through an umbrella company to think that they are paying employer NIC. However, this is not actually usually the case, but is rather down to some confusion about how an umbrella company works.
Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate
The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) regulates employment agencies that find and supply temporary work-seekers roles with hirers. Their website is here.
To make a complaint to the EAS about an employment agency, use the online reporting form on GOV.UK.
A first-time worker is a worker who is taking on their first period of paid employment.
For help with issues and concepts that you may come across and need to understand when you first start work, including as an Apprentice, see LITRG's website.
As a first-time worker, you may want to consider becoming a member of a recognised trade union, more information on the TUC website.
Fraud is defined as the deliberate use of deception or dishonesty to disadvantage or cause loss (usually financial) to another person or party.
HMRC have an online fraud reporting facility which can be used by workers to inform HMRC on the doubtful tax dealings of their hirers.
The form can also be used to tell HMRC about problems or irregularities with employers and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants. The form looks quite long, but you do not need to complete all the fields and you do not have to give your details.
JobsAware defines the “UK Gig Economy” as the area of the Labour Market in the UK which does not involve permanently employed workers; including but not limited to temporary agency workers, self-employed contractors and those who work flexibly for an organisation which is not necessarily their employer.
Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority
The Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) regulates those who supply labour or use workers to provide services in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging. Its aim is to protect vulnerable and exploited workers by setting licensing standards that labour providers in these sectors (including agencies or umbrella companies) must meet. From April 2017, the GLAA was given a wider remit to tackle labour abuse across all aspects of the labour market, in addition to its licensing scheme.
Their website provides useful information on workers’ rights.
To make a complaint to the GLAA about an agency or umbrella company operating in their sector you can use their online reporting form.
Gig Economy platform workers
Many people earn extra cash by using one of the many available online platforms to, for example, offer rides, run errands and make deliveries.
For some guidance on your tax and employment law status if you work in this way, including on registering for self-assessment, see LITRG's website.
Note, most platform workers are currently treated as self-employed for both tax and employment law purposes, however there have recently been a few cases that have found some platform workers were ‘workers’ rather than ‘self-employed’ for employment law purposes because the control that they were under by the platform meant they weren’t in business on their own account (e.g. in the Uber case, where the drivers had their route and fares set for them – for more information see LITRG’s article.)
The UK government website can be found here. It brings together public information in one place. It covers the whole of the UK, although you may find NI Direct (www.nidirect.gov.uk) useful if you live in Northern Ireland;
Holiday Leave and Pay (including Bank Holidays)
Holiday leave (also known as annual leave) is paid time taken off work. Employees and ‘workers’ are entitled to holiday leave and pay.
To discover some information on your rights to holiday entitlement, visit GOV.UK.
GOV.UK also has information on the basics of holiday pay.
You can calculate your holiday entitlement on GOV.UK.
You can find more detailed information about holiday entitlement and how it should be calculated for workers with irregular working patterns here on GOV.UK.
Guidance on how to calculate holiday pay for workers whose hours and/or pay are not fixed can also be found here on GOV.UK.
If you are unsure as to whether your engager is dealing with your holiday correctly in your particular circumstances, you could seek further clarification as to your position from ACAS.
Because of problems inherent in calculating holiday leave and pay for very short term agency workers, some workers used to get extra pay on top of their hourly rate instead of being given paid holiday. However, this ‘rolled up’ system has now been deemed unlawful. If you are not on a rolled up system and you leave an agency or umbrella company having taken fewer holidays than you are entitled to, you should be paid in lieu of the untaken holiday. You should also ask the agency or umbrella company to confirm the circumstances in which you may lose the holiday pay (for example, if you do not request it before the end of the holiday year).
A healthcare worker is any worker whose job role impacts or influences the health or care of any person, including but not limited to, nurses, doctors, social workers and pharmacists.
If you have concerns about a care provider please report these to the Care Quality Commission.
You can find information on pay, tax and benefit issues that face care workers on the LITRG website.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Hirers have a legal responsibility to make sure that their workers remain safe and healthy while doing their job.
The Health and Safety Executive helps workers understand how they can stay safe and well at work.
Their website provides information for all workers on their rights and responsibilities in relation to health and safety issues at work.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
HMRC are the UK's tax authority. They are responsible for many things like income tax and National Insurance (including enforcing employer compliance with the Pay As You Earn system and the National Minimum, Wage rules).
The homepage for HMRC is here on GOV.UK. It links to tax guidance and HMRC publications, including leaflets/forms and their services.
If you need help getting through to HMRC or need extra support, see LITRG's website.
TaxAid is a UK charity providing free tax advice to people who have a tax problem, are struggling to deal with HMRC and cannot afford to pay a professional adviser. The service is independent and confidential. Their website is here.
Income Tax and National Insurance
Income Tax is a form of tax that most workers pay on their employment income, to the government. National Insurance Contributions (NIC) help to pay for some state benefits including retirement pensions. You pay NIC if you are either employed or self-employed and aged 16 or over but below state pension age. The amount of NIC you pay depends on how much you earn.
LITRG’s website is full of detailed, helpful tax information for workers, including how income tax and National Insurance works if you are employed or self-employed and what to do if you think you have paid too much tax.
Intermediaries are entities within a supply chain that sit between the worker and the ultimate beneficiary of the worker's services (sometimes called the end client, engager or hirer). Agencies, limited companies (personal service companies) and umbrella companies are all intermediaries.
Intermediary structures take various forms, so that there may be more than one intermediary in each supply chain, for example in the supply chain worker-umbrella company-agency-end client, there are two intermediaries, the agency and the umbrella company. In general, the more intermediaries there are, the higher the risk of problems for workers.
LITRG’s new report looks in depth at the use of labour market intermediaries and the problems that can arise for workers with them. One of the aims of the report is to help workers inform and protect themselves.
IR35 / off-payroll working rules
If you are providing services to an end client through a limited company, you must consider the impact of the intermediaries legislation (commonly known as IR35/the off payroll working rules).
These rules ensure that individuals who effectively work as employees are taxed as employees, even if they choose to structure their work through a limited company.
You can find out more about these rules on the LITRG website.
If you fall under the rules, it means the payment that the end client (or other entity in your supply chain that pays your limited company) makes to your limited company may be taxed under PAYE. But note that even in these circumstances, you are NOT classed as an employee of the end client for employment law purposes.
You can find guidance on the IR35/off payroll legislation and whether it applies to you on GOV.UK
A job advertisement is an announcement made via the newspaper, online etc. about a job role that workers can apply for. Also known as a job advert or a job ad.
As part of our Partnership structure with job boards and online platforms, we provide guidance on best practice that job advertisers should follow when advertising jobs online, and your rights as a worker.
Know Your Employer
Know Your Employer is about doing research and due diligence into a potential employer, much like they might do to you through interviews and document checks etc. Here are some basic tips to knowing your employer:
- Do research on the company online - look at their website as well as on websites like Glassdoor, for company reviews, if applicable.
- Check that the company is registered with Companies House.
- Search media sources such as news articles for previous press releases about the company
Agency workers should check for information about the agency unless they work through an umbrella company, in which case they should check for information about the umbrella company.
Key Information Document (KID)
From 6 April 2020, agency workers must be provided with this document prior to them signing up for an assignment, including where they are paid via an umbrella company. In practice this will mean that the Key Information Document should be one of the first things agency workers receive.
A KID will give you a number of pay related facts, along with other details about your engagement. Where you are paid through an umbrella company, provided the KID is completed correctly, you should be better able to fully track the difference between the gross amount paid by the agency to the umbrella company and the net sum that you receive.
If you don’t get a KID, you should complain to the EAS.
A limited company is a form of business which is legally separate from its owners and managers and is incorporated at Companies House in the UK.
the shareholder of the company and
the employee of the company (that the company uses to supply the services that it is contracted to provide).
It is important that you seek advice if you are unsure on your employment status and/or believe your your employment rights have been breached. As a first step, you could try ACAS, Citizens Advice, or a trade union if you belong to one (or want to join one).
If you need specialist help, you could try an employment law solicitor - use this website to find one (they may offer a free initial consultation).
For free legal advice, you can find your nearest law centre using the law centre website.
Maternity and Paternity rights
When you’re a new parent or you’re expecting a baby, you have extra rights at work. You or your partner could be entitled to:
- maternity rights (including maternity leave and/or pay)
- paternity leave and/or pay
- shared parental leave and/or pay
- adoption leave and/or pay
- unpaid time off to look after your child
- come to antenatal appointments with your partner
You can read more about all of these things on GOV.UK.
You can also find information from GOV.UK on your rights while on parental leave.
There are some quirks in the way the rules apply to agency workers. Some information on maternity rights for agency workers, can be found on Maternity Action's website. For example, on GOV.UK it says ‘You may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay, but you cannot get Statutory Maternity Leave’ – although don’t worry - agency workers can still take time off and can re-register with the agency when they want to return to work.
Migrant workers in the UK are workers who come from outside of the UK to work within the UK.
Modern slavery is defined as the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation.
Find information from GOV.UK on modern slavery.
If you believe you are victim to, or have witnessed, modern slavery please report it via the Modern Slavery Helpline.
This model sees the fragmentation of an umbrella company workforce into lots of individual companies, often with a director based out of an overseas country.
On the face of it, all is well as you will be having PAYE operated. However, in the background, workers are being put into mini companies, where the Employment Allowance (EA) is being claimed inappropriately (the EA cuts a small employers' NIC bill and was designed to help businesses create more jobs or increase wages).
You should make sure you do not get caught up with problematic ‘mini’ umbrella companies – there can be a nasty impact on your employment rights, among other things.
You can read more about mini umbrellas on GOV.UK.
Notice periods for assignments
If you are an agency worker, your assignment may be terminated by the end client – but as you do not have any direct contractual relationship with the end client you are placed with during the assignment, even though you work for them during that period, you would not be entitled to a notice period from them.
National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage (NMW/NLW)
Employees and ‘workers’ are entitled to a minimum wage.
There are different rates depending on your age and if you are an apprentice. The NMW means that you should receive at least an amount of pay per hour for the hours worked in your pay period, for example, a week or a month.
The NLW was introduced from 1 April 2016 and is essentially a premium on top of the NMW. Originally it was for workers aged 25 and over who were not in the first year of their apprenticeship. From 1 April 2021, it is for workers aged 23 and over, who are not in the first year of an apprenticeship. While the NLW operates as a higher level of NMW, the same rules apply to both.
You can find NMW/NLW information from GOV.UK.
For free and confidential advice on NMW/NLW issues call the ACAS helpline.
LITRG also provide guidance to individuals on the NMW/NLW, including common problem areas such as apprentices, tips, deductions and travel time and costs.
The latest minimum wage rates can be found on GOV.UK.
You can make a complaint to HMRC (who enforce the NMW/NLW) about underpayment of the minimum wage.
National Insurance numbers
You can find information on National Insurance numbers on the LITRG website.
If you leave or lose your job, you may have to work a notice period (or be paid in lieu). A notice period is the amount of time an employee or employer has to give the other party before leaving or terminating their job.
You can find guidance on handing in your notice on GOV.UK.
You can also find a collection of guidance on GOV.UK on redundancies, dismissals and disciplinaries.
Occupational Health is a branch of medicine dealing with the prevention and treatment of job- or work-related injuries and illnesses.
Some employers provide occupational health programmes to support employees to keep you safe or to remain in work (if, for example they work in hazardous or safety-critical areas) or to return to work after a period of absence, illness or injury.
Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system is a method of paying income tax and national insurance contributions. Your employer deducts tax and national insurance contributions from your wages or occupational pension before paying you your wages or pension.
You can find guidance from LITRG on how PAYE works.
Personal Tax Account
If you are a worker in the UK you can use the UK Government's Personal Tax Account service to check your records and manage your details with HMRC.
Access this service on the UK Government website.
Queries and questions (general)
If you have any HR employment related concerns please visit the ACAS website.
You can get support and advice through Citizens Advice.
If you have any queries and questions you can also contact JobsAware for guidance.
Recruitment Companies or Agencies
A recruitment company is a business which is paid to find suitable workers for other companies and organisations.
If you have a complaint against a recruitment company please visit the UK regulator, The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate.
A rest break is an uninterrupted break taken during work. You might be entitled to rest breaks depending on the length of your working day, your age and the type of work you do.
Find guidance from the UK Government website on rest breaks.
Self-employed / Self-employment
Self-employment is defined as working for yourself either in a freelance capacity or as the owner of a business, rather than for a direct employer.
Are you employed, self-employed, both or neither? Find out from LITRG.
Find guidance from the UK Government on working for yourself.
Sick leave and pay
Sick leave is absence from work granted on the basis of illness or sickness.
Find information from the UK Government about taking sick leave.
Find information here from the UK Government about statutory sick pay which you might be entitled to.
A Trade Union is an organised association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.
Find your most suitable trade union on the TUC website.
Find information from the UK Government on joining a Trade Union.
Find information from the UK Government on solving workplace disputes.
Find information from the UK Government on industrial strike action.
An umbrella company is a company that employs agency contractors that work on temporary assignments, usually acting as an intermediary between the contractor and their recruitment agency.
See information from the UK Government on Umbrella Companies who offer to "increase your take home pay".
Worker voice is the means by which employees or workers can influence their employment organisation's decision making.
Trade Unions are a popular way of exercising worker voice, more information can be found via the TUC website or in section T of this A-Z.
Whistleblowing is a term used to describe when a worker passes on information concerning wrongdoing, typically but not limited to, wrongdoing witnessed whilst at work.
Find more information on whistleblowing from the UK Government website.
Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR)
The WTR is a statutory instrument in English, Welsh and Scottish labour law which imposes limits on workers' hours of work and entitles most workers to rest breaks, amongst other regulations. It is designed to protect workers from exploitation.
Find guidance from the UK Government on maximum weekly working hours.
Find guidance from the UK Government on night-time working hours.
Find guidance from the UK Government on rest breaks at work.
Find guidance from the UK Government on holiday entitlement rights.
Worker status, also known as employment status, is the status which determines your employment rights and the responsibilities of your employer. You can use JobsAware's basic guide to worker status to help understand what your status might be.
You can find information about employment status on the UK Government website.
Similar to our Know Your Employer point in section K, here you will find tips on what to check before agreeing to employment with a company. This is particularly around the contract and other documentation that you may be required to agree to.
- Ensure that you receive a contract, or similar written documentation, for any employment you undertake, even if it is zero-hours (see below)
- Check the clauses in this contract to ensure that your rights are represented, including rights to paid annual leave and sick leave
- Check the communications that you receive from potential employers to make sure they do not have spelling mistakes for example - it is a common feature of fake job adverts and companies to send unprofessional or misspelled communications
- Make sure if you are asked to apply for a DBS check, that the company asking you to complete your details and make payment is a Responsible Organisation with the DBS. You can find lots more information on having a criminal record check conducted safely on our criminal record checks page.
A right is a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something. In this case, your rights are the legal entitlements you have around employment and work.
You can find guidance on the UK Government website about your pay and work rights.
Zero-hours and freelance
Zero-hours refers to a contract of employment which does not include a guarantee of regular work for the employee, who is paid only for the hours they work.
Find information from the UK Government around zero-hour contracts.
Advice・A-Z of Worker Help