Useful HR Info

Some basic HR information that we get asked regularly.

What is the difference between a worker who is an employee and one who is not?

An employee is a person employed under a contract of employment. A worker who is not an employee is said to be engaged under a contract sui generis (of its own kind). There are two elements to a contract of employment: mutuality of obligation and control. Mutuality of obligation exists when an employer undertakes to provide a person with work and that person agrees to do that work in return for an agreed salary or wage, and on terms and conditions laid down by the employer. Control exists if the employer determines when, where and how the work is to be done (or the manner in which it is to be done). It follows that temporary workers are not employees if they are free, without penalty, to accept or reject any offer of employment made to them. Although the control element undoubtedly exists when a worker accepts an offer of casual work, the ability to reject such an offer at will, and without penalty, is what distinguishes such a worker from an employee.

What has to be included in an employment contract under UK law?

As a legal minimum your staff contracts must contain at least the following:

  • the names of the parties to the contract – employer and employee
  • the employee’s place (or places) of work
  • the employee’s job title or a brief description of their job
  • the employment start date and if appropriate the date when the employee’s continuous employment is deemed to have started
  • the employee’s pay rate and pay frequency
  • the hours of work
  • the employee’s holiday entitlement
  • details of the notice to be given by the employer and employee to terminate the contract of employment
  • details of sick pay arrangements
  • details of the pension arrangements relevant to the employee
  • information about your discipline and grievance procedures
  • details of any collective agreements that affect the employment
  • whether the employment is temporary or permanent and if it is not permanent how long the employment is expected to continue
  • if it is a fixed term contract, the date when the fixed term will end

As mentioned above, this is just the legal minimum and a good well written staff contract (usually when combined with a user friendly staff handbook) can set the tone for how your employees perceive they should behave at work.

What is the current National Minimum Wage?


25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

under 18


From October 2016






From April 2017






Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either:
    ◦       aged under 19
    ◦       aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they both:
◦       are aged 19 or over
◦       have completed the first year of their apprenticeship

What is the current statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay?

If your employee qualify’s for any of the above payments then they are entitled to the following from 6th April 2016:

Type of payment or recovery

Amount due from April 2011

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) - weekly rate for first six weeks

90% of the employee's average weekly earnings

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) - weekly rate for remaining weeks

£139.758 or 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower from April 2016

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP) & Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP) - weekly rate

£139.758 or 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower from April 2016

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) - weekly rate

£139.758 or 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower from April 2016


Do I have to pay Statutory Sick Pay and how much is it?

All employee’s are entitled to sick pay.  As a Company you can choose to pay more than the Statutory Sick Pay but as a minimum Statutory Sick Pay must be paid. The same weekly Statutory Sick Pay rate applies to all employees. However, the amount you must actually pay an employee for each day they're off work due to illness (the daily rate) depends on the number of 'qualifying days' they work each week.

The current Statutory Sick Pay rate is £88.45 per week.

Why is it important for employers to have clear disciplinary rules and procedures?

Disciplinary rules are necessary to set standards and make it clear to employees what conduct is and is not acceptable in the workplace. Rules help employees to know where they stand in their employment on a range of issues. Disciplinary procedures are also an essential management tool to permit managers to deal fairly and consistently with any employee who breaches the rules.

What is gross misconduct?

Gross misconduct is a single act of misconduct that is serious enough on its own to justify the employee's immediate dismissal. As there is no statutory definition of what constitutes gross misconduct, it is up to each employer to define what types of conduct will be regarded as gross misconduct. It will be important for employers to do this clearly so that employees and their managers properly understand the types of conduct that will lead to dismissal

What is the minimum statutory provision for paid holiday?

In each holiday year, under reg.13 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), workers have the legal right to a minimum of four weeks' paid holiday. Regulation 13A, brought into force by the Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2079), introduced entitlement to a further period of 1.6 weeks' annual leave, implemented in two phases of 0.8 week's leave on 1 October 2007 and the remaining 0.8 week's leave on 1 April 2009. Workers are therefore entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks' paid annual holiday.

What is the maximum number of working hours an adult worker can work?

Every adult worker has the legal right to refuse to work more than an average of 48 hours a week, calculated over a reference period of 17 consecutive weeks, subject to certain exemptions, under the Working Time Regulations 1998. The 17-week period may be increased to 26 weeks for workers whose work keeps them away from home for long periods and for some other groups of workers. The 17-week period may be extended to up to 52 weeks under the terms of a collective agreement or workforce agreement that applies to particular workers or groups of workers.

Can an employer treat part time workers less favourably than its full time workers?

Not unless such treatment can be objectively justified. The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (SI 2000/1551), which implement the Part-time Workers Directive (97/81/EC), state that part-time workers must not be treated less favourably than comparable full-time workers in matters relating to pay, overtime premium payments, holiday and holiday pay, sickness benefits, selection for redundancy, access to pension schemes and other contractual benefits.

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