11 things employers say to mislead workers about their rights.
If you hear any of these, get advice:
- “You work for us, but you’ll need to pay your own national insurance contributions.”
- “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.
- “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.”
- “You were travelling 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 - Citizens Advice can guide you on next steps.
- “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
11. “You are not entitled to sick pay” or “We don’t pay for sick leave”
Check if you qualify for sick pay. If you do and your boss refuses to pay you then you should contact the HMRC to get this resolved.
Citizens Advice top tips for tackling problems at work
- Keep evidence - keep hold of letters, payslips, emails and texts, and note down a record of conversations you’ve had which could be used to support your case.
- Talk to your boss - problems may arise from honest mistakes or misunderstanding the law. If you don’t feel confident having a conversation one to one, ask a colleague or Union rep to join you.
- Have a more formal discussion - if the issue isn’t resolved with an informal conversation, the next step is to raise a written grievance which should give you the chance to discuss your issue formally. ACAS has guidance on what to do.
- Get advice - if you’re still not getting anywhere, speak to Citizens Advice, your Trade Union or to ACAS. Options might include using dispute resolution to liaise with your employer, or going to an employment tribunal.