Protection of Employees

Northern Ireland has implemented European legislation that gives certain basic rights to employees. These basic rights are therefore similar to rights enjoyed by employees throughout the EU, however Northern Ireland still has its own unique domestic law, including the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (ERO), that is based on legislation and decisions of the courts.

The protections enjoyed by employees include:

  • right to a written statement of the basic terms of his/her employment;
  • protection against unfair dismissal after one year’s service;
  • paid holidays (5.6 working weeks);
  • protection against discrimination on grounds of race, gender, pregnancy or maternity, marital or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, religious belief or political opinion, age, disability, sexual orientation and membership of the traveller community;
  • maternity/adoptive leave of up to 52 weeks (eligible employees on maternity leave are entitled to 6 weeks’ pay at 90% of their normal weekly earnings and 33 weeks’ pay at a set weekly rate or 90% of their normal weekly earnings whichever is lower; employees on adoptive leave are entitled to adoption pay for up to 39 weeks at a set weekly rate or 90% of their normal weekly earnings, whichever is lower). These rates are reviewed annually in April each year; and
  • protection of wages. Employees are entitled to a written statement of wages, contributions and deductions. The ERO generally prohibits unauthorised deductions from wages;
  • minimum hourly rate of pay.