The employment relationship is ultimately founded on the basic principles of contract law. Whilst contract law assumes equality of bargaining power the employment relationship is clearly unique. As such, case law and legislation has sought to correct the balance.
The precise nature of employment rights will ultimately be determined according to the work status of the individual. For example greater employment rights are afforded to employees as opposed to workers or self-employed individuals. Self-description of employment status is not always the determining factor when identifying the true nature of an individual’s status; an individual can be contractually defined as an independent or self-employed consultant or contractor but on inspection of the actual practices in operation it can be seen that the individual is in fact an employee and is entitled to greater protection than was originally envisaged.
Employment rights are made up of statutory rights, and contractual rights which are the express and implied rights contained within a contract of employment. Broadly speaking employees are entitled to a number of rights including; to be paid wages for the work that they have done; to be paid for a certain number of day’s holidays per year; and to be paid for periods of absence due to sickness and maternity. Employees are also entitled to written payslips; to make flexible working requests subject to satisfying qualifying criteria; and have parental rights.
Employers rights; employers have the right under the Data Protection Act 1998 to monitor their employees in many situations. This type of monitoring includes checking websites visited, opening and reading emails, recording on CCTV cameras. However it is important to note that issues relating to privacy must be handled with caution and sensitivity and ideally employers should have a code of conduct or policy on monitoring at work.