Dec 07,2022 | 12 min read

Comparing Employment Laws of UK and US

Employment laws govern relationship between an employer and it’s employees. It protects workers’ rights, promote safe workplace and helps to prevent discrimination and wrongful termination among others. Employment laws in the United Kingdom are more stringent and go extra mile in protecting the interest of employees or workers. But in the United States, employment laws are quite flexible and give the employer more freedom in terms of hiring, working hours, termination etc.



United Kingdom (UK)

United States (US)

Employment Regulations

The United Kingdom has a single set of employment laws, with minor variations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Separate employment laws exist in the United States at the federal, state, and municipal levels.

Right to Employment Contract


All employees must be given a written statement, on or before joining. Employment contract generally include job title and description, date of joining, salary or wage rate, working hours, leave entitlement etc.

In the United States, there is no legal requirement for a written employment contract.


Family Leave Entitlement

Employees are entitled up to 52 weeks partially paid maternity leave. The first 39 weeks are paid leave and remaining 13 weeks can be unpaid. Employees are also entitled to paid adoption, paternity, and shared parental leave, as well as up to 18 weeks of unpaid paternity leave per child.

Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for seriously ill family members, birth of a child, and job protection when returning from family or medical leave.


Annual Leave Entitlement

For full-time employees, who work at least five days a week are entitled to paid annual leave of minimum 5.6 weeks or 28 days. (pro-rated for part-time employees and can include bank or public holidays).

There is no federal or state statutory minimum paid holiday leave in the United States. Paid leave is granted at the employer's discretion.


Right to Minimum Wage


Employers in the United Kingdom are required to pay a minimum wage, which varies depending on age and whether the employee is an apprentice.

Minimum wage laws exist in several states in the United States. When both state and federal minimum wage laws exist, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two.

Right to Pension

Employers in the United Kingdom must enroll employees in a pension scheme and contribute to their pensions if they are eligible.

A state pension for citizens of the United States is there, that is primarily funded by social security taxes paid by employees and employers.

Right to Sick Pay

Statutory sick pay is available for up to 28 weeks at 95.85 pound statutory seek pay per week.


The United States has no national requirement to provide paid sick leave, though many states have their own laws on the subject.

Protection from Wrongful Termination

An employee must have at least two years of continuous service to be eligible to file an unfair dismissal claim.


Except in cases of violation of federal, state, or local discrimination or anti-retaliation laws, the United States lacks a developed uniform system of law protecting employees against unfair dismissal.

Right to Health Insurance

Most people in the United Kingdom do not have private healthcare insurance and are covered under the National Health Service (NHS), which is funded by taxes.

Employers with 50 or more employees in the United States should provide health insurance to employees.


Protection against Discrimination

Employees are protected from discrimination based on age, disability, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and marriage or civil partnership under Equity Act of 2010.

Workers are generally protected from discrimination based on age (only for age over 40), race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, genetic information, retaliation, or union activity under federal law.

At Will Employment


Employees are entitled to prior notice of termination that is no less than the statutory entitlement -one week for each year of employment, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Either the employer or the employee can end the relationship at any time, for any lawful reason, and without notice, as long as it does not violate a protected class.

Work Checks


The employee's right to work must be confirmed before they begin work. The automatic rights of EU/EEA citizens depend on how long they have lived in the UK.

Non-US citizens must have a Visa and an Employment Authorisation Document before they can work in the US.

Regulations Regarding Working Hours


In the United Kingdom, limits apply to weekly working hours, rest breaks, and night working of employees. An employee may not work beyond 48 hours a week. Though this provision is directory in nature and an adult employee may opt to work longer hours.

Working hours are not regulated in the United States.


Health and Safety


Health and safety legislation in the United Kingdom, particularly Health and Safety at Work Act,1974 ensures that employees work in a safe environment.

The goal of occupational health and safety law in the United States is to encourage and require safe working conditions with minimal risks for employees. Every state has a different set of rules and regulations that apply to employers in their jurisdiction.

Right to Join a Trade Union


Employees can join trade unions but there is no automatic right for an employer to recognise a union.

In many industries in the United States, Labour unions are legally recognised as representatives.



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