Young people unaware of their workplace rights

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​Young workers are not only unaware of the rights they hold in the workplace but are less likely to belong to a trade union, according to research

The survey from UIA Mutual found that young people were not taking steps to ensure their employers were acting lawfully before starting their roles. Less than half (49%) of the 1,007 18- to 30-year-olds surveyed said they had checked that their pay met the National Minimum Wage. Still fewer (37%) had checked their working hours were within the legal limit.

When asked about trade union membership 65% said they were not part of a trade union, 27% said they were, and 8% said they were unsure.

Yet of the 18- to 30-year-olds that had decided to join a trade union 39% said they felt more protected at work. Meanwhile, those who were not part of a trade union recognised the benefits of joining one, with 27% saying they would feel more protected and 25% saying they would learn more about their rights.

When asked who they thought was responsible for educating them about their rights at work, 75% of young people not in a trade union said it was up to their employer.

Last year research from the TUC found that trade union membership has fallen in recent years. It stated that unions must do more to reach out to young people, who are often at greater risk of low-paid work.

UIA Mutual's research indicated that young people are under pressure at work, with 48% stating that they had felt stressed in the past 12 months, and a third saying they felt undervalued (34%) and underpaid (31%).

“The rise of the ‘gig economy’ job and zero-hours contracts serves to highlight the changing face of British working life and the growing need for better workplace representation and assistance,” said Jon Craven, CEO of UIA Mutual.

Speaking to HR magazine, Craven added: "I think what the stats reveal is there’s a general lack of knowledge about workplace rights and where to go for support. It's great that young people are the focus for unions in 2019."

Employee relationships are at their best when everyone plays a role in upholding workers' rights, he said: "I think all parties have a responsibility here. The best examples of employee relations are found where all parties collaborate to find solutions that are positive for all stakeholders."

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