Duties of employers to employees: More than just paying a salary!
June 14, 2021
This article was first published in Rural magazine.
Employers owe their employees various duties. Most of them are fairly obvious (such as payment of salary) but it may not even occur to some employers that additional duties are owed to their employees. This article provides a very basic overview of some of the key legal duties employers owe to their employees and also provides readers with information on the recent announcement made by the Employment Forum on mandatory rest periods during the working day. There are other duties which are owed by employers under common law (e.g. court judgments) but this article does not cover those.
Duties under the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003 (the Law)
A lot of employer duties are contained in the Law. Some of these include:
Providing of a written statement of terms (or employment contract): This must be provided no later than four weeks after an employee starts work. Previously if an individual worked less than eight hours a week, a contract wasn’t required. This exemption ceased to apply on 1 September 2015.
If an employer fails to comply with this obligation they are guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of £10,000.
Minimum Rest Days: An employer is required to provide employees with an uninterrupted rest period of no less than 24 hours in each seven day period. Note the Employment Forum has recently announced that it will be recommending to the Minister for Social Security that in addition to this rest day, mandatory 15 minute rest periods be introduced for any employee working more than six hours during a working day. The Employment Forum wants this in place by 1 January 2022 at the latest. This has to be debated and approved by the States.
Annual Leave: An employer is required to provide their employees with the following minimum periods of paid leave during any year:
o Two weeks of annual leave and
o Leave on Christmas Day, Good Friday and all public or bank holidays (or to receive time off in lieu if they are required to work on those days).
Note, the Employment Forum have requested that the minimum period of annual leave be increased to three weeks. Again the Employment Forum wants this in place by 1 January 2022 at the latest, subject to States approval.
To pay at least the minimum wage: Any employee who is older than 16 is entitled to be paid the minimum wage. This amount is fixed annually.
Providing an itemised pay slip: An employer is required to provide to every employee a written itemised pay statement. Failure to do so can result in the employer being fined £10,000 and also liable to pay an employee a sum not exceeding four weeks’ pay.
Parental and Adoption Leave: From 28 June 2020 all employees (regardless of length of service) are entitled upon becoming a parent (whether for the first time or not) to 52 weeks leave (of which a minimum of six weeks must be paid by the employer at 100%) to care for their new born or newly adopted child. This leave can be taken in up to three blocks during a two-year period.
Provision of Breastfeeding facilities: From 28 June 2020 employers must take reasonable steps to provide facilities in the workplace to permit mothers to express milk.
Notice periods: The Law provides minimum notice periods for employees based on their length of service.
It is important to realise that the duties of an employer are not just in the Law. Duties are also imposed under other statutes including:
Health and Safety (Jersey) Law 1989
A duty to ensure their employees’ health and safety, and welfare whilst at work: this includes:
o Identifying the risks employees are exposed to in the workplace
o Providing training
o Ensuring the workplace is maintained in a condition that does not pose a risk to their health
A duty to have a general health and safety policy: this applies to any employer who employs five or more employees
Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013
Not to discriminate against employees: this includes discriminating against an employee on the grounds of a “protected characteristic” (race, disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, transgender status or pregnancy)
To make reasonable adjustments to a workplace to cater for an employee’s disability: this is much more than ensuring a workplace is accessible as not every disability is visible.
An employer owes various duties to all of its employees. It is of vital importance that employers are aware of these duties as a failure to adhere to them can have significant consequences for an employer.