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2024 Workplace Blank Slate | What are Your Employee Rights in Scotland?

It’s a new year, perhaps a new you. That doesn’t need to look like a teen movie makeover or an expensive gym membership. Maybe you’re just reevaluating things. Most likely you’re thinking about your working environment. What are the things that you would like to change? Some of these things might be something that a simple conversation with your managers could aid, and some things might have the law on your side. It’s important to know what rights you have as an employee and where you can enforce them. Take a look at our points to see where you can make positive change with the employee rights in Scotland on your side. 

What is the difference between Scotland and the rest of the UK?

There are a lot of differences between employee rights in Scotland the rest of the UK. For example, employees in Scotland are entitled to statutory sick pay from day one of employment, whereas in the rest of the UK there is a three day waiting period before SSP kicks in.

Additionally, employees in Scotland are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave. This is more generous than the legal minimum in the rest of the UK.

You should also be aware of your agreed maternity and paternity leave and pay, which should be detailed in your contract. For starters, employee rights in Scotland say that employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave regardless of how long they have worked for their employer, whereas in England this is only applied after 26 weeks of service. You are also entitled to your Statutory Maternity Pay after 26 weeks of employment whereas the rest of the UK requires 41 weeks.  

The fathers in this situation are frustratingly low on rights. Only one week of paternity leave is standard as a right in the rest of the UK, whereas employee rights in Scotland allow for two. Although, some employers pride themselves on being more generous. There is also more time given in employee rights in Scotland that cover shared parental leave, parental bereavement leave and time off for antenatal appointments. 

Plus, no doubt you’ve read the headlines about employers trying to get you back into the office. The employee rights in Scotland around this are hazy due to the new nature of the situation, but better. Employees in Scotland have the right to request flexible working arrangements after just 26 weeks of continuous service. In the rest of the UK it is six months service required and the list of valid reasons to request flexible working is broader. 

Unfortunately, there are no employee rights in Scotland that will be a slam dunk for demanding working remotely, but there is stronger legal protection for homeworking arrangements in Scotland once an employer has agreed to it, when compared to the UK. 

Employee rights to remember that aren’t different from the UK?

It’s important to remember in the age of zero-hour contracts that you have the right to a written contract, which is important to get. Employees are entitled to a written statement of their main terms and conditions of employment. This keeps both the employee and the employer in check with something you can point at and say “That’s not in the contract”. 

Following a long couple of years of nationwide strikes, admittedly localised to England mostly, it should be a given nowadays that you know your right to join a union. You might need to exercise it tomorrow. Unions play an important role in employment relations, which means you have rights to be associated with unions, take part in union activities, and the right to union representation without fear of disciplinary action.

And since everyone is taking a stance against bullying in the workplace, it’s important to know what that means. Workplace bullying and harassment can be verbal, physical or written. It also includes explicit or implicit threats and inappropriate jokes or imagery. Remember that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from bullying and harassment. Policies should be in place and complaints dealt with promptly.


While largely aligned, there are some key differences in employee rights between Scotland and the rest of the UK that both employees and employers should be aware of to be sure that your rights are covered in your workplace.