Up-to-date information on your rights as a construction worker and whom to contact if you experience exploitation at work.

Are you currently working or looking for a job in the UK? Are you worried about your working or accommodation conditions? Do you know your rights?

You can get support

Some employers may try to cut corners if they feel you don’t understand your rights. You can get free, reliable and confidential help and support if you:

If you have experienced any of these, make a note of what happened, being sure to include details of: 

  • What the incident was 
  • When it happened 
  • Where it happened 
  • Who was involved 
  • Witnesses to the incident 

This information will be important to have should you decide to seek help. 

Documenting an incident

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Understand your rights

Your rights may vary depending on your employment status. In the UK, you have the right to be free from exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery.

The UK has a NMW and you should not be paid below this. As of April 1st, 2020, if you are aged 25 and over, you are entitled to a minimum wage of £8.72 per hour, if you are aged 21-24 years old, you are entitled to £8.20 per hour and if you are aged 18-20 years, you are entitled to £6.45 per hour.  

If you work overtime, your employer must pay you for the additional time you have worked, and your average pay for the total of hours you have worked must not fall below the NMW. 

If you have a pre-existing condition or are feeling ill, you should not be made to work or be denied sick pay. Those who earn more than £118 per week will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). You can also claim SSP if you are self-isolating because a member of your household has the virus. 

If you miss four or more consecutive days off work due to sickness, your employer might ask you to provide proof of illness. You can self-certify your illness here

Important: There is no cost to those looking for diagnosis or treatment of Covid-19. This applies to all persons, regardless of their immigration status. There is no need to check migratory status for foreign people who are only being tested or under treatment for Covid-19. 

For any other health issues, you can register with a General Practice (GP). NHS Accident and Emergency services (A&E) will provide assistance for urgent health issues, and they will not charge there and then, but you may incur a debt if admitted for further care. 

If you have any healthcare needs which are not related to Covid-19 or are having problems receiving healthcare, you can contact Doctors of the World

If you work more than six hours in a day, you must be given a break of twenty minutes. You must also be given one day off per week, or two days every two weeks.  

You should not have to work more than 48 hours a week, including overtime, unless you have chosen to do so. If you agreed to work more than 48 hours in the past, you can change your mind at any point by letting your employer know. 

Before starting any job, you must receive a contract or written statement outlining the terms of your employment. This includes a clear description of what you will be doing, where and when you will be working, how much you will be paid, when you will be paid and the breaks and holiday you can take. 

Even if companies are hiring for ‘urgent’ or ‘immediate start’ jobs, they still must give you a contract before starting. 

Your employer must provide you with a payslip which tells you how many hours you have worked and how much you were paid. It should also tell you if any deductions have been taken from your wages. 

Any deductions to your pay should be listed clearly in your pay slip. It is common to have deductions for tax and National Insurance. Other deductions, for example for travel or food, may not be legal.  

Your employer may suggest you can receive less than the NMW due to money you owe them or things they are offering you such as accommodation or food. If your employer is taking money from your wages, it should be detailed in a contract in a language that you understand.

Your employer is responsible for your health and safety at work, this includes protecting you from being exposed to Covid-19. You should be provided with health and safety training and free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which might include face masks, plastic gloves, and handwash.  Your employer must also clean the workplace regularly and ensure that teams remain the same to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. 

If you have worked for your employer for longer than a month but less than two years you should not be dismissed or asked not to go to work without a week’s notice. If your employer tells you not to come to work during your notice period, then they still have to pay you for it. Equally, if you have been employed with the same company for more than two years, you cannot be dismissed without a reason. 

You should not be dismissed for reporting any rights issues, such as not receiving a contract, asking for PPE, not receiving the minimum wage, or discrimination. 

Your hours should not be reduced without your consent and any changes to your contract must be agreed upon by you. If you are on a zero-hours contract this may not apply to you, but you can seek advice here

Whom to contact

If you suspect that you or someone you know have been mistreated or exploited at your work, please contact these organisations for free confidential help and advice.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offer confidential advice and information about your rights at work.

0800 144 8848


Citizens Advice local advice lines: 

  • Lewes District (including Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven and Telscombe): 01273 007557 
  • Wealden (including Wealdon, Crowborough, Uckfield and Hailsham): 0800 144 8848 
  • Brighton and Hove: 08082 78 78 15 
  • Eastbourne: 03444 111 444 
  • Rother District: 03444 111 444 

Citizens Advice local websites:

Modern Slavery Helpline

You can report any suspicions or concerns about exploitation that you may have to the Modern Slavery Helpline. The phone line is free to call and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

08000 121 700


If you or anyone you know are in immediate danger, please call the police on 999.


You can receive medical assistance in your language, regardless of your immigration status or place of residence in the United Kingdom.

Find more information about Covid-19 and NHS guidance

Watch a survivor's story


If you are not in immediate danger but would like to report what you experienced or share your story of what happened to you in an anonymous way to help prevent this happening to other people then please use the STOP APP.