Your employment rights

As well as particular rights which might be set out in your employment contract, all employees have certain rights under the law (known as “statutory rights”). There are also some special rights and rules for young people under 18.

Health and safety rights

There are particular rules designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of young people (under 18) in work – there are restrictions on the type of work you can do and the numbers of hours you can work. The younger you are, the more restricted your work. Find out more about these restrictions here.

Holiday rights

If you’re under school leaving age (generally, under 16), you are not legally entitled to paid holiday from work.

If you’re over school leaving age, you are legally entitled to paid holiday, in the same way as other workers- 5.6 weeks per year. (Multiply 5.6 by the number of days you work each week to work out the numbers of days you can take as paid leave each year.)


If you’re above school leaving age you are entitled to earn a minimum wage. This is called the National Minimum Wage; current rates are set out here.

If you’re under 16, you’re not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Rights to time off for education and training

16 and 17 year olds have the right to reasonable time off for education and training, at your normal hourly rate of pay.

pregnancy and maternity rights

Your employer cannot treat you less favourably if you are pregnant or have had a baby.They are also required to take other steps to ensure that you’re safe at work and can attend your antenatal appointments. You also have a right to maternity leave, and protection while you are on maternity leave. Find out more about your rights while you are pregnant here and about maternity leave here.

Other statutory rights

These include the right to:

  • a written statement of terms of employment within two months of starting work
  • an itemised pay slip
  • a maximum 48-hour working week
  • weekly and daily rest breaks (16-18 year olds are entitled to two days off a week and a minimum 30 minute rest break if they work for more than 4 1/2 hours)
  • the right not to be discriminated against
  • notice of dismissal, provided you have worked for your employer for at least one calendar month
  • written reasons for dismissal from your employer, provided you have worked for your employer for two years
  • the right to claim compensation if unfairly dismissed. In most cases to be able to claim unfair dismissal you will normally have to have worked for your employer for two years

You can find more about employment rights here

You might also be interested in our other pages on your legal rights: