Some employers misleading workers over rights, says Citizens Advice

By agency reporter
June 14, 2017

Asking people to go self-employed to keep their jobs, telling agency staff they don’t get sick pay, and suggesting pregnant staff cut their hours are among the things some employers say to try and find ways around workers’ rights, Citizens Advice has revealed.

The charity has identified 10 common things that some employers say to try and mislead people about their rights.

All 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 are entitled to, and allow unscrupulous employers to find ways of depriving them of pay and protections.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said,  “Bad bosses are denying people their rights, often for their own gain.  People with complex work arrangements or those whose circumstances change can be unsure about their rights, with unscrupulous employers using the opportunity to mislead them about how they should be treated.  Anyone who is being refused pay and protections should seek advice straight away, to help them clarify their rights and how they can raise the issue with their boss."

“For people who can’t reach a resolution with their employer, it can be hard to work out who to report the problem to and what to do next. Citizens Advice wants the Government to create a single Fair Work Authority to make it easier for people to get the rights they’re entitled to by clamping down on illegal business practice.”

In May 2017, Citizens Advice revealed that half of people on zero hours contracts and two in five temporary workers wrongly thought they weren’t entitled to holiday pay.

 Now the charity is highlighting 10 things employers say that attempt to undermine people’s rights, and setting the record straight on how they should be treated. If you hear any of these from your boss, they strongly recommend you get advice:

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.”

 Being asked to pay your own national insurance or to go self employed when nothing has changed are signs of ‘bogus self employment’ – where your boss claims you are self-employed but you’re not. 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 – if you think you are an employee, ask to be treated like one. Get advice on how to approach the conversation.

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 travelling between clients – so we didn’t pay you for those hours.”

Every employee should get the national minimum wage, and you should be paid for all the time you spend at work. HMRC can help resolve problems with underpayment – 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.”

 Your 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.”

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.  

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.

You can get further information and advice online or find your local branch of Citizens Advice here

*Citizens Advice https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

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