Contractors’ rights: Ask the expert

I have been working for my company for two years. I do 45+ hours per week and they renew my contract every three months. I have no holiday pay. What are my rights to maternity leave and for time off to go to the doctor?

Whilst there are some differences between agency workers and employees in terms of employment rights (ie whether you are deemed a ‘worker’ or ’employee’ under employment law), I will make the assumption that you are employed directly by this company – on temporary contracts that are renewed regularly.  So provided that your service with the company is continuous ie that you have been employed by the same company for 2 years or more, you do have certain employment ‘rights’.

In summary, you should be entitled to a minimum of 24 days paid holiday per annum (including Bank Holidays), and a minimum hourly wage of £5.52 (this increases to £5.72 in October) – for those aged 22 and over.    Under the Working Time Regulations, employees are protected from consistently having to work more than 48 hours per week.  However there are various exclusions and generally if overtime is paid & employees agree to do the hours, a company is OK to request its employees to work extra hours from time to time.

Time off for doctor’s appointments

Regarding time off to attend the occasional doctor’s appointment, whilst some companies may allow employees to come in late for example after an appointment, your company is under no obligation to pay you for this time off – some companies would expect you to take paid annual leave for this purpose and others may deduct some pay accordingly.  However in the case of doctor appointments for ante-natal care, all pregnant employees, however long they’ve been in their jobs, are entitled to reasonable time off work for ante-natal care. Any time off must be paid at your normal rate of pay. It is unlawful for your employer to refuse to give you reasonable time off for ante-natal care or to pay you at your normal rate of pay.

Maternity Leave & Pay

Regarding maternity leave and pay, women are normally entitled to take up to 1 year’s maternity leave and will qualify either for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay as a minimum – some companies will have their own Maternity Policy which should be set out in the Company Handbook or available from the HR department.  I don’t have sufficient details of your specific situation to advise you any further, but I would recommend that you visit a local Citizens Advice Bureau or telephone ACAS: Helpline 08457 474 747. Switchboard 020 7210 3613 for some further free advice (showing them your employment contract – assuming you have one) before approaching your employer to ask them to honour the rights you may have.

While every care has been taken in compiling this answer, Workingmums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.



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