Top 10 workers’ rights tips released by Hartlepool citizens’ advice bosses

Joe Michna at Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau.
Joe Michna at Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau.

Advice chiefs in Hartlepool are reminding workers of their rights as they highlight the most common areas where employers mislead people.

Citizens Advice Hartlepool, based in Park Road, has released a top ten list of things employers can say to try to mislead workers either deliberately or through ignorance of the law.

Joe Michna

Joe Michna

They range from employers asking people to become self-employed if they want to keep their jobs or telling agency staff they don’t have a legal right to sick pay.

Citizens Advice Hartlepool says the most common issues people go to them for advice for are around pay and entitlements, such as sick pay, contract terms and conditions, and dismissal.

Joe Michna, Citizens Advice Hartlepool manager and employment law adviser, said: “Some employers are misleading workers on what their actual legal rights are.

“In some instances it may be that employers are not fully aware of what the law says in relation to employment rights but in other cases it is done to deprive employees of their rights.

“People with complicated working arrangements such as flexible hours, temporary or agency contracts can find it particularly difficult to work out what their rights are, allowing some bosses to trick them out of pay and entitlements.

“To help inform employers and employees, we have compiled 10 things that bosses should not say.

“Any local worker or employer that needs advice on employment rights should contact us for advice and information.”

Citizens Advice Hartlepool says aAl employees are entitled to basic rights such as national minimum wage, sick pay, holiday pay and fair treatment during pregnancy.

However, issues such as contract types and unclear employment status can leave workers unsure about what they’re entitled to.

The advice service is urging workers to seek advice if they hear any of the following things.

Visit Citizens Advice Hartlepool at 87 Park Rd or phone (01429) 408401.

1. “You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own national insurance contributions.”

2. “We can’t afford to pay you any more, you’ll have to go self-employed.”

Citizens Advice say being asked to pay your own national insurance or to become self-employed when nothing has changed are signs of ‘bogus self employment’.

This saves employers money as they don’t pay national insurance on your wage - or need to pay you minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay or maternity pay either. Check your employment status.

3. “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”

4. “You were traveling between clients - so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”

Every employee should get national minimum wage, and you should be paid for all the time you spend at work.

HMRC can help resolve problems with underpayment and Citizens Advice can guide you on next steps.

5. “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”

6. “You’re having a baby next year? We’ll need to take you off that important project now.”

Working arrangements during pregnancy should stay the same unless you ask for a change – any changes imposed on you are discrimination.

Let your boss know that you want to continue work as normal, and if they insist on changes get advice.

7. “We don’t have to pay you redundancy pay because you’re on a zero hours contract.”

Wrong. Some zero hours workers are entitled to redundancy pay. You need to have been working for your employer for two years or more, usually doing at least one shift a week. Citizens Advice can help you work out if you qualify.

8. “We need to close for the next two days for stock taking, so you’ll need to take holiday.”

If your employer needs you to take holiday, they should give you twice as much notice as the length of holiday needed.

If you aren’t given proper notice, you should be paid and not asked to use leave. ACAS can liaise with both parties to resolve problems with leave if a discussion with your employer doesn’t work.

9. “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.”

Agency workers should be paid sick pay by the agency. Check if you qualify for sick pay and work out your next steps.

10. “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.”

If you’ve already agreed to work the hours and you’ve been absent long enough to qualify, you should get sick pay.