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If you own a business, you should be aware of the three basic rights of workers to make sure that those who work for you are being treated fairly. After all, any good business owner wants their staff to feel safe, secure and respected, so this is an ideal place to check that you are providing everything you need to maintain basic workers' rights and keep your employees happy.

In every circumstance where you are acting as an employer, you must know the basic employment rights of a worker. Whether you’re looking to hire someone new, or you need to resolve a dispute about employment rights with an existing employee, you will need to make sure that the basic rights of an employee are being upheld to avoid any misunderstandings or legal issues.

What are employment rights?

If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘what are the 3 basic employment rights for a worker?’ you are probably already pretty aware of the concept of employment rights. But to be perfectly clear, the basic rights of an employee are the minimum privileges each and every worker in the country is entitled to according to the employment law. These range from how much you deserve to be paid, how much time off you have, and how you are treated in the workplace. 

What does it mean to be a worker?

A worker is someone who provides services for a cause or organisation in exchange for money, as long as their contract or arrangement lasts. Even if someone does not work full time they are still classed as a worker and will have the basic workers’ rights.

The 3 basic employment rights for a worker in the UK explained

The three basic rights of workers include rights concerning pay, hours and discrimination. Workers are entitled to these rights through the law and may declare their employer if they do not respect these rights.

  1. Firstly, basic workers' rights include the need to be paid at least the national minimum wage and they are protected against unlawful deductions of pay.
  2. Secondly, workers must have the statutory minimum level of paid holiday and rest breaks and do not have to work for more than 48 hours a week (although they can choose to work more and opt-out of this).
  3. Finally, basic employment rights for a worker include protection against unlawful discrimination, unfair dismissal, whistleblowing (being discriminated against for declaring any issues with their employer) and unfair treatment for being a part-time worker.

What are the 3 types of employment status?

Whilst workers' basic rights apply to all employees, the employment status of a worker may mean that their rights are slightly different. The three main types of employment include ‘worker’, ‘employee’ and ‘self-employed’. 

All of the three basic rights of workers explained above also apply to ‘employees’, the only difference between an employee and a worker is that a worker does not have to work under a contract of employment like employees do. Workers could include agency worker, short-term casual worker and even some freelancers.

An employee’s contract may include a minimum length of continuous employment before some rights apply. It  may also include details about statutory sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay or parental pay/parental leave, the right not to be unfairly dismissed and legal redundancy pay. 


If you're self-employed, you don’t have basic rights as an employee as such, as you are your own boss and can therefore decide how much to charge for your work and how much holiday to give yourself. However, you do still have the same legal protection against discrimination and you must be provided a safe and healthy working environment.

It is often not completely clear what the employment status of a worker is, so if an employer and employee disagree with this or are unsure, an Industrial Tribunal will make its decision based on all the circumstances of a case.

Get legal assistance from LawBite

Employment law can be difficult to navigate. If you need legal advice concerning basic employee rights or you have questions about an employment contract, LawBite has friendly employment lawyers, solicitors and mediators who will give you clarification and help you with your issue. 


LawBite’s advice is clear to understand and easy to access. It is also a lot more affordable, generally 50% less than similar high street lawyers. So if you’re worried about any of the basic rights of workers and need expert legal advice, make an enquriy and get the support you need. 


Additional useful information

Read more of our latest blog posts, featuring all the latest legal news, analysis and opinion from our expert employment lawyers. 

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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