Having an understanding and good boss is almost the holy grail of being an employee, but not all of us have got that luxury, a Burton charity says.
Asking employees to become 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 to find a way around their workers' rights, Citizens Advice Mid Staffordshire can reveal.
The Burton charity has identified 10 common things which bad employers say to try to mislead their workers about their rights.
In the 12 months to April, 180,000 people went to Citizens Advice nationally for help with a problem at work. Its online employment advice pages were also viewed 9.3 million times, a 200 per cent increase on the figures four years ago.
All employees are entitled to basic rights such as National Minimum Wage, sick pay, holiday pay and fair treatment during pregnancy. Despite this, issues such as contract types and unclear employment status can leave workers unsure about what they’re entitled to. This allows employers to find ways of depriving them of pay and protections.
Dawn Green, chief executive at Citizens Advice Mid Staffordshire, 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.”
Here are 10 things your boss should never say to you, and if you hear any of these, get some advice:
- “You work for us, but you need to pay your own national insurance contributions” – that is the job of your employer, and not you.
- “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.
- “Your disability means you don’t do as much work as others, so we’re not going to pay you minimum wage.” – Minimum wage applies to all, just because you have a disability does not mean you aren’t entitled to it.
- “You were traveling between clients - so we didn’t pay you for those hours.” – Your boss should pay you for all the hours you spend at work.
- “You’re pregnant? Great! But we’re worried you won’t cope so we’re cutting your hours.”
- Or “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.
- “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, then they should give you twice as much notice as the holiday is for, in this case 4 days prior.
- “You work through an agency, so you don’t get sick pay.” – Agency workers should be paid sick pay by the agency.
- “We took you off the rota, so we don’t owe you sick pay.” – If you’d already agreed to work the hours and you’ve been absent from work long enough to qualify then you should get sick pay.
Advice is available from Citizens Advice Mid Staffordshire by calling 03444 111444.