Your employment rights – at home and abroad

No matter where a person works, it is important for them to be aware of their rights. However, employment rights differ from country to country so this is something that should be taken into consideration. Those who want to move from one country to another need to do a little research first to find out what their rights would be if they chose to work there.

The regulations of the country where the worker is based will always take precedence. If a worker in the UK chooses to move to the US but continues working for the same company, he or she is then subject to US employment law.

Similarities and differences

There are some strong similarities between employment law in the UK and the US. The US has a very strong anti-discrimination policy, for example, and there are many regulations that have been put into place to protect workers’ rights. However, there are a few key differences and it is important to understand these before making the move.

One of these is the concept of ‘At-Will’ employment. This covers those who do not have an employment contract and who are knowingly in an employment relationship that can be categorized as ‘voluntary’. This is a common arrangement in the US but in the UK employment contracts are mandatory. This prevents the worker from being dismissed unfairly, but dismissals without warning in the US are far more common. Those who are working in the US under the terms of a written contract and who are dismissed suddenly may feel as though it is unfair. If this is the case then it is important to consult a lawyer. The US does not just have one law that covers this but there are different laws at state and federal level and legal expertise will be needed to determine which laws apply.

Another difference is that the US has a much more laid-back approach to employers that hire staff without the right visas and other paperwork. Checks carried out in the UK tend to be more stringent as there are higher penalties for those who employ those who do not have the right to work in the country.

It is also common for employment contracts in the US to include a ‘non-compete’ clause that prevents the worker from setting up a business in the same vein as the employer and effectively becoming the competition. In the UK such clauses are less likely to be enforceable due to UK employment law being more protective of the employee.

Finding out more

Those who are planning to go and work abroad will need to consider carefully all the relevant employment laws before they go. Information from prospective employers may not always be comprehensive, so it is a good idea to do a little research both at state and national level to find out which regulations may apply. It is always worth taking legal advice if there are any concerns as it is better to iron out any problems before making the move.

Simon OatesYour employment rights – at home and abroad

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