As an employee or employer within the fitness industry, it is important that you understand your employment rights. This becomes especially important if you are in a management role or your business starts to grow where you have other fitness professionals helping you operate. The inappropriate management of people and their employment rights may leave you or your organisation open to employment tribunals and liability claims.
Employees have two sets of rights: statutory and contractual. Statutory rights, which are the rights as outlined by UK law and apply to all those employed in the UK, are in place regardless of situation or circumstance.
Some of the key statutory rights for employees are:
- To be given a written statement of terms of employment within two months of starting work
- To be given an itemised payslip, covering every payment from the organisation. This should begin from their first day at work
- To be paid at least national minimum wage for their age group. This should commence from their first day of work
- Not to have illegal deductions made from their pay. All legal deductions should be itemised on the payslip and the employee should be informed
- To be allocated their legally required holiday time and have paid holiday. In general, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 days a year (or 5.6 weeks per year), and these generally include bank holidays. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro rata amount
- To be free to join trade unions and take part in trade union activity; they should also be given time off for trade union duties and activities. This should be implemented from the first day of employment; however, time off does not necessarily have to be paid
- To be given weekly and daily rest breaks
- Not to be discriminated against
Statutory rights give a minimum standard of employment rights and are in effect even if an employment contract is not in place. Contractual rights are those that have been agreed supplementary to the statutory rights and take the form of a binding agreement or contract between the employee and employer. These vary greatly depending on the position within the organisation and/or the sector. Such contracts normally cover payment terms, working arrangements, etc. The contract is signed by mutual agreement between the employer and employee, and the terms are legally binding as long as they do not go against the statutory rights.
If you are in a position where you are managing people, it is advisable that you have equipped yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to have in a management position. This can be done by using external advisors; however, this can be expensive, and they may not be on hand at the moment decisions are to be made. An easy way to add this interesting and career-developing skill set is to enrol on the Level 3 Fitness Management course, which contains a full module on employment law and how to be a responsible employer.