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Employment responsibilities

Employees and employers both have responsibilities towards each other.

Responsibilities of employers and employees

The employer and employee:

  • have to act and deal with each other in good faith
  • have a responsibility not to act against the trust and confidence which is in all employment relationships
  • should act reasonably towards one another.

Examples

Employers have many other responsibilities to their employees. Some of these responsibilities come from the employment agreement or workplace policies. Many of these responsibilities come from employment legislation and these are sometimes called employee minimum rights.

Employees also have responsibilities to their employers, for example, when an employee agrees to work for their employer, they are agreeing to give them effort, time and skills.

Some of these responsibilities of employers and employees are summarised in the table below:

Employer Employee
  • Pay employees what their employment contract states, and at least the legal minimum wage.
  • Give the employee at least four weeks’ annual holidays.
  • Give the employee the day off on 11 public holidays or give them an alternative holiday if they work, if it is a normal working day for them.
  • Pay at least time and a half if an employee works on a public holiday.
  • Give employees at least five days’ sick leave per year.
  • Act in good faith and with honesty.
  • Provide a safe workplace.
  • Do not deduct money from wages unlawfully.
  • Go to work at the agreed time.
  • Do what your employer asks you to do.
  • Use your skills and knowledge and personal characteristics to do your work.
  • Do your work with care.
  • Behave reasonably.
  • Act in good faith and with honesty.
  • Keep yourself and others safe when you are at work.

Employee responsibilities

Go to work

You must be at work and willing to work during the days and hours that are in your employment agreement. You must make sure you get to work on time. You can only be away from work for a legal reason, for example, if you are genuinely sick , bereaved or have agreed with your employer in advance to have time off. If you are sick or bereaved, where at all possible let your boss or supervisor know before the time you are meant to start work. If you don’t turn up to work when you are meant to, or you don’t let your employer know that you will be away, you:

  • will be inconveniencing your employer
  • will probably be annoying your colleagues, who may have to pick up your work
  • may face a disciplinary process , especially if you are late or absent without a reasonable explanation or by agreement
  • may have deductions made from your pay.

Follow all lawful and reasonable requests

Employees have to follow all requests and requirements from their employer as long as they are:

  • lawful
  • are within the scope of their job and their employment agreement, and
  • are not dangerous to the health and safety or themselves or others (unless danger is a recognised part of the job, eg if you are a fire officer).

For example, some employers have dress codes to maintain their business image. This may mean that you have to wear a uniform, or dress to the code, if your employer asks you to.

Exercise reasonable skill and knowledge

Employees should have the skill and knowledge needed for the job if an appropriate hiring process has been followed by the employer. They should exercise their skills in a way that makes sure that the employer’s assets and property are protected and no one (including themselves) is harmed. Employers must make sure that employees are trained in, or supervised by someone who is trained in, how to carry out work safely.

Exercise reasonable care

Employees must take care when performing their duties. This means doing the job to the best of their abilities. Not only is this good work ethics, but an employer may take action against employees who do their job poorly. Never ever skylark, or play the clown on the job, this could put yourself or others at risk of danger.

Exercise reasonable behaviour

Employees must behave in a reasonable manner on the job and in some cases even off the job (if their behaviour outside work could make the employer look bad). Employees should make sure that they know their organisation’s rules and policies, such as dress standards, and use of company computers and email facilities. Employees should be careful about what they post on social media and other websites, about their employer and colleagues, and their own social activities.

For example, John (aged 18) worked for a supermarket. After work one evening, he and some of his workmates popped into the pub across the road for an after work drink. They got into an argument with another person there, which ended with a fight between John and the other person. The other person was a truck driver for a company that supplies the supermarket John worked for with canned food, and could easily identify John and his workmates as supermarket employees because they were in their supermarket uniforms. He complained to the supermarket, and after an investigation, John was dismissed for bringing the supermarket into disrepute (making it look bad) and seriously breaching the trust and confidence in the employment relationship. His workmates got warnings for their part in the matter.

To act in good faith and with honesty

All employees must act in ‘good faith’ at work, this includes:

  • devoting their normal hours of work to the employer’s business
  • respecting the employer’s confidentiality and not sharing work information outside of work, as that could harm the employer’s business
  • not asking for, accepting or getting rewards related to work from third parties without the agreement of the employer
  • not promoting themselves to the employer’s customers while they’re still an employee in an attempt to take them away from the employer after leaving the job.

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