Principles of Personal Responsibilities and Working in a Business Environment

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Employment contracts
Terms and conditions
An employment contract is a very important document. It spells out the key things you can expect from your employer and what your employer expects from you. Once you’ve worked for your employer for two months, you have the legal right to receive details of your terms and conditions of employment in writing. This information may come in a letter or a formal contract of employment. Alternatively, you may get a document outlining the main terms of employment, with signposts to where you can find other essential information.

Key legislation
What's covered?
Virtually every aspect of your employment is covered by law. In the UK, the law applies to businesses and organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. There are four main areas covered by legislation:

1. Health and safety
2. Employment rights and responsibilities
3. Pay and pensions
4. Data protection.

Sector specific legislation
Legislation applies to all businesses and organisations. They must find out which laws / regulations apply to them so they can follow these laws correctly. They should also ensure that each employee knows the law and how it relates to his or her job role. If a business claimed they did not know the law, it would be no defence if they got into trouble for not following the law. In many organisations, employees are told all about general and industry-specific laws during the induction process. Specific laws and regulations apply to areas such as food safety, employment agencies, private security industries and many more.

The importance of legislation
Why have laws?
Laws are created in business to protect employers, employees, customers and third parties. If laws didn’t exist, people would be unprotected and things may get out of control. There would be no clear way to resolve differences or difficulties. Laws help businesses to have rules of conduct that apply to all relevant parties. Other methods can also be used to resolve differences of opinion or behaviour that break these rules – such as courts / tribunals. Courts use an objective, evidence-based approach to solve problems to do with breaking the law, rather than using force or power to resolve an issue. Be informed!

Sources of information
You can find useful information about employment rights and responsibilities in many different places! Some sources of information may be found within an organisation (known as internal sources) while other sources are found outside the organisation (known as external sources). Internal sources of information may include:

* Line managers
* Personnel specialists
* Informed colleagues
* Staff association representatives
* Trade union representatives
* Books and documents held within the organisation.
External sources of information may include:
* Libraries
* Citizens Advice Bureau
* Legal professionals
* Educational establishments / courses
* Trade unions – regional and / or head office
* Chambers of Commerce
* Employer / industry organisations
* Business Link
* Government
* Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Representative bodies
Support for staff
One of the ways that employees can receive help and support in the workplace is through representative bodies. The best known examples of representative bodies are trade unions. Non-trade union representation may also be found in certain organisations. According to ACAS, there are 50% trade union and 50% non-trade union representatives in the UK.

Everyone is different
People often assume that all employees in the workplace are the same. However, when you think about this in more detail, it's obvious that a huge amount of differences (or diversity) can exist in a workplace. A few categories of diversity can be seen on the right of this page! At times, differences are treated with suspicion or they are resisted....
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