Rights and responsibilities in the workplace

Lesson objective

Learn about rights and responsibilities in the workplace

Key idea: you cannot separate rights from responsibilities. They are two sides of the same coin.

Success criteria

  • Describe the rights of the employee at the workplace
  • Describe the responsibilities of employers towards their employees
  • Demonstrate examples where rights and responsibilities may conflict

Introduction to the learning

If you can, work in pairs. First day at a new job. One of you be the employee, the other the employer. Take a couple of minutes to write down what each is expecting of the other. Their responsibilities. Never mind the job.

Take another couple of minutes to write down what rights each has.

Get feedback from all pairs or individual students, just one example from each.

Ask the class if they notice anything about the rights of the one group and responsibilities of the other?

Today, at the end of the lesson you will be able to define what fair treatment at the workplace means. You will also be able to explain how rights and responsibilities can sometimes conflict.

Main body of lesson. 

Build on the introduction.

If you can,subject to guidelines on social distancing, get pairs to move into groups of four. Divide the groups of four into two sets. Get one pair to discuss the responsibilities of the employer/ rights of the employee. Get the other to discuss the responsibilities of the employee/ rights of the employer.

After a few minutes see how many they come up with. Get one answer from each group then ask the others if they got the same answer/ agree with answer.

Responsibilities of the employer: some examples. These could be prepared on the whiteboard or as worksheets, distributed later as a reminder.

  • Safe, comfortable working environment
  • Equal treatment, regardless of gender, race, religion, disability etc
  • The pay rate for the job (not less than minimum wage). Equal pay for men and women
  • Training for the job
  • Paid holiday (minimum of two weeks as determined by national practice and trades unions)
  • Parental leave (minumum of six weeks for either parent, as determined by national practice and trades unions)
  • Notice in the event of dismissal (excludes zero hours contracts)

For challenge and extension activities use iPad to get facts about minimum wage, paid holiday and parental leave.

Examples of what your employer will expect from you: his/ her rights/ your responsibilities

  • Arrive on time
  • Do the work required
  • Accept direction from your manager/ supervisor
  • Pay attention to instructions about health and safety, dress code, no smoking etc
  • Behave in a suitable manner
  • Protect employer's assets, eg passwords, important documents, equipment

Questions for the class:

How are these rights normally protected in this country?

(Contract of employment, enforceable at law)

Rights in conflict

Sometimes the rights of an employer and employee can conflict.

If you can, work in small groups, take the worksheet HR1 and say what could be done to resolve the problem. If there is time, get two groups to compare answers.

For support activities:

Ask students to complete worksheet HR3, dressing for work.

For challenge and extension:

Ask students to look up the Fairtrade Foundation and find out about support for fair working conditions in developing countries.


Feedback on worksheet projects and Fairtrade

Note on trades unions. You have a legal right to belong to a trade union that can represent your interests at work. But an employer is not obliged to negotiate with a trade union. It usually makes sense for them to do so.

Debating topic

Companies frequently transfer operations to countries where employees have lower wages and fewer employment rights. That puts people out of work in one country, into work in another.

What do you think of that? We will talk about that next time.

Teacher assessment: teacher questioning of individuals and groups, teacher checking of response to worksheets and special projects.


Worksheet HR1

  • Rights and responsibilities in the workplace

Fact sheet HR2

  • Fair treatment at work

Worksheet HR3

  • Dressing for work


Department for Education

Citizenship Studies AQA GCSE 2016






Rights and responsibilities in the workplace