Legal requirements and employment rights

What you need to know about your rights and legal requirements while working.

UK employment law aims to protect employees against unfair treatment in the workplace. This includes legislation on conditions of work such as hours of work, statutory minimum wage (NMW) rates, holiday entitlement and tax.

The Careers and Employability Service encourage employers to pay students or graduates in any situation where they are considered workers. We also only advertise opportunities which adhere to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) minimum wage guidelines for work experience and internships.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates

The hourly rate for the minimum wage depends on your age and whether you’re an apprentice. The current rates for minimum wage can be found on GOV.UK. It is illegal for an employer to pay you less than the National Minimum Wage.

You should be entitled to holidays and holiday pay depending on the nature of the job and how long you have worked for the employer as well as a right to notice (the period of time you must give an employer to terminate your employment) and the right to rest breaks (such as lunch).

National Insurance Number

A National Insurance number (sometimes called an NI number, NIC number or NINO) is issued to everyone in the UK. It is a record of the National Insurance contributions you have paid out of your wages/salary. International students must apply for a National Insurance number when they actively start looking for work. How to apply for a National Insurance Number.

Paying Tax

Students are not automatically exempt from paying income tax and National Inurance. You will have a Personal Allowance which enables you to earn a certain amount each year before paying tax. Visit GOV.UK for more information about paying tax as a student. For further details about paying tax and NI whilst working during term time and the holidays visit HM Revenue & Customs.

International students

If you are in the UK on a student visa it is likely that you will have permission from the UK Government to undertake employment. The International Advice and Guidance team have information that will help you if you wish to work while studying.

Unpaid work experience

Many students consider taking unpaid work experience to gain valuable skills and industry insights. If you are considering unpaid experience, make sure you know and understand your rights. Under UK legislation, if you are classed as a worker, you are entitled to be paid at least National Minimum Wage rates, unless you fall under one of the exceptions.