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Employee Rights

What are Employee Rights?

Employee rights refer to the legal and ethical entitlements and protections afforded to individuals who work for an employer. These rights are designed to ensure fair treatment, safe working conditions, and respect for employees' dignity and well-being.

Employee rights vary by country, jurisdiction, and employment status, but they generally encompass a range of areas to ensure that employees are treated fairly and equitably within the workplace.

To learn about employee rights in a specific country, visit our country guides.

Employment agreement or contract

The fine print of when an employment agreement or contract must be presented and signed by both the offering company and its new hires varies from country to country, but one fact stands: Some kind of written agreement must be made and signed.

By law, each party is entitled to a copy for their personal records, with the original signed copy staying in possession of the employer.

Generally speaking, an employment contract or agreement should include the following details:

  • The job title and description
  • Working location, including any remote work arrangements or eligibility of applying for remote work if applicable
  • Compensation amounts and any applicable bonus structures, including the frequency of payments and payment methods
  • Benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks
  • Expected work hours and schedule, including break allowances and any overtime or flexible work arrangements
  • Probationary period details, such as how long the probation period is, how performance is to be evaluated, and under what circumstances either party may decide the position is not a good fit
  • Termination details that lay out how employment can be terminated, including notice periods required by both the employer and the employee
  • Expectations surrounding intellectual property created during the course of a worker’s employment
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure requirements addressing the protection of sensitive company information and trade secrets, as well as any post-employment obligations related to confidentiality

Payslips

Most countries require businesses to supply employees with a record of their pay at the time of every pay period. Most countries do not set out exactly how the payslips should be provided, but generally, employees can access their pay information electronically or request paper copies.

Equal pay

All developed countries now have laws stipulating that all employees have the right to equal pay regardless of their age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, political opinion, or nationality, among other equal opportunity employment protections.

Annual holiday/vacation leave

Depending on the country, annual holiday or vacation leave may or may not be mandated. For example, in the United States, businesses are not required to extend any kind of paid leave to employees for time not worked.

However, in most other countries around the world, all employers must offer workers some days off. In the European Union, all country members must offer a minimum of 20 days (4 work weeks) of vacation leave per year. Some countries require businesses to offer more than 20 days, such as Portugal (22 days of leave) or France (30 days of leave). Many organisations offer more than 20 days as an incentive to attract more talent to the company, even if the law doesn’t require it.

Public holiday leave

All countries around the world have established public holidays, which are non-working days for employees. In general, employers are required to give workers the day off or compensate them fairly if the business is open on public holidays and employees are expected to work.

Health and safety

All employers must ensure the working conditions in their offices are safe and pose no threats or risks to employees. In many countries, this requirement extends to home offices if the company offers the option to work from home.

Likewise, employees are expected to comply with health and safety regulations set by the company or by law for their own protection.

Health and safety expectations might include:

  • Clear work instructions for employees
  • Details of what is deemed appropriate equipment, including any safety equipment required by workers to do their jobs effectively
  • A commitment to providing a hazard-free and clean environment for employees to conduct their work or take breaks throughout the workday
  • An outline of how often employees should have break times throughout the day based on working hours as well as the length of those breaks
  • Details of the whereabouts of basic first-aid kits and available training to employees for any additional first-aid devices on site, such as defibrillators

Equal treatment, protection from discrimination, and protection against dismissal

As with equal pay stipulations, all workers in developed nations now have protections against any kind of workplace discrimination or dismissal based on their gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, political opinions, or disabilities, among other things. In most cases, employers must provide cause for termination and do not have the right to exercise any kind of at-will employment agreements.

Employees who feel they’ve been wrongfully terminated due to discriminatory practices and who have sufficient documentation or evidence of such discrimination may be eligible for compensation and have a right to take legal action.

Personal data protection

Most countries expect businesses to treat their employees’ personal data with the utmost care and have their own rules and regulations about how companies must go about protecting and securing personal or private data.

In the EU, all companies must follow the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules addressing data allowances and restrictions concerning their employees. Personal data includes any information as it relates to a specific individual.

If a worker requests, organisations must provide information on where and how the worker’s personal data is being used and stored.

For more information on the specifics of these regulations, visit GDPR.eu or check out our list of country guides.

Respect all employee rights with Boundless

Get the help you need to ensure you’re following local regulations and laws concerning the rights of your employees wherever they are. Boundless legally employs your workers and handles the finer details so you don’t have to.

Speak to one of our experts to learn more.

The making available of information to you on this site by Boundless shall not create a legal, confidential or other relationship between you and Boundless and does not constitute the provision of legal, tax, commercial or other professional advice by Boundless. You acknowledge and agree that any information on this site has not been prepared with your specific circumstances in mind, may not be suitable for use in your business, and does not constitute advice intended for reliance. You assume all risk and liability that may result from any such reliance on the information and you should seek independent advice from a lawyer or tax professional in the relevant jurisdiction(s) before doing so.

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