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Employment law for graduates: Know your rights and how to enforce them

It has seemed at times recently that the job market for graduates just gets tougher and tougher, with the news that application numbers for many of the leading graduate recruitment posts have risen far more than have any of the place allocations.

However amid the difficult forecast and the current debates over unpaid internships, there is some good news for graduates, with growing signs that the economy is recovering and the latest statistics that show overall unemployment has fallen for the twelfth consecutive month.

All the discussion about the difficulties graduates face in the recruitment process ignores the difficulties many have when they start their first job. Graduates often feel like they need to impress in their first few months, and evidence shows that they consistently ignore unfavourable and perhaps even illegal working conditions in order to keep their job.

Knowing your employment law rights is a vitally important part of any graduate job, for unless you know your rights it is almost impossible to enforce them.

Graduate rights

Graduates have the same basic employment rights as is afforded to any employee in the UK. Your rights are found in statute law passed by parliament, and in your employment contract. The crucial distinction is that your contract can give you extra rights, but cannot take away from your basic statutory rights.

Basic statutory rights include simple things like a right to a written statement of employment particulars within two months of starting work, that details the name of your employer, job location, pay, working hours, holiday entitlement and job description.

Other basic rights include the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage, the right to a pay slip, and the right to 28 days paid holiday per year for a full time employee. Most graduates also have the right not to be made to work more than 48 hours per week, and the right to a safe working environment. This last right includes the right to work free from bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Rights acquired later on

Some employment law rights are only acquired after you have worked for your employer for a set period of time. A good example of this is the right to claim compensation from your employer for unfair dismissal. Unfair dismissal occurs when your employer terminates your employment for an unfair reason, or in an unfair way.

The right to claim compensation for unfair dismissal only applies to employees who have worked in their job for at least one year if they started before 6th April 2012, or for two years if they started after this date.

If you believe that your employment law rights have been infringed, or are suffering at work with long hours or from discrimination or bullying then your rights may be infringed. In order to assess your situation you should seek to discuss your concerns with a senior, or if you feel unable to do this, take legal advice from a free advice service, or from your local solicitor.

To discover more about your employment rights, you can look at our employment law FAQs on Contact Law by clicking the logo:


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