Student worker rights

Every employer in the UK must follow employment legislation when employing staff. You can read these pages and then attempt the student worker quiz!

This includes working part time and casual employment.

If you are looking for part time work log into the Student Services Portal and browse vacancies by selecting the Careers Centre tab, opportunities and then Search and Apply.

If you need further support or help regarding part time work, the Careers Service offer bookable appointments during term time.

At the start of your employment you should be given a statement of the terms and conditions of your employment within 8 weeks of starting your job. This statement can be written or oral or both and should include information such as:

  • Job title
  • Rate of Pay
  • Notice Period
  • Hours of work
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Details of Pension Scheme

You can find out more information here.

Did you know?

The following things are essential for you to start your job:

  • National insurance
  • P45
  • Proof of address
  • UK visa (if appropriate)
  • ID (passport or drivers license)

Minimum wage

You are entitled to be told, in writing, how much you will be paid and when your wages will be paid.

This is the minimum hourly rate of pay; this rate is reviewed every year. The current rate (as from April 2018) is:

  • £6.45 for workers aged between 18 - 20
  • £8.20 for workers aged 21 - 24
  • £8.72 for workers aged 25 and over.

If you have any concerns that you are not being paid the correct rate, you can get confidential help and advice about the National Minimum Wage.

Call 0800 9172368 or find out more at

Calculate your salary from your hourly rate here.

Working hours

Working time regulations (WTR) cover your employment rights to make sure you do not work excessive amounts.

You cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours in a single week; your boss can ask you to work more than this, but this request must be made in writing and in advance.

You are also entitled to:

  • A rest break of at least 20 minutes for every six hours of continuous work during a single shift.
  • At least 11 hours’ rest in each 24 hour period- this means if you finish a shift at 9pm you shouldn’t be on the rota again until 8am the next day.

Holidays and sick leave

All workers are legally entitled to a certain amount of holiday per year (unless you are self-employed or on a temporary contract).

Full time workers get at least 5.6 paid holiday weeks a year (whether this includes bank holidays is up to your employer).

For part time workers you are entitled to a proportion of those 5.6 weeks, dependent on how many hours/ days you work.

Click here to find out how much holiday you are entitled to.

Taking annual leave

When you decide to take annual leave is up to you and your employer. It’s all about coming to an agreement that suits both of you.

During busy times (e.g. Christmas) employers might impose a ‘holiday blackout’, this is something to check before you start work if you are intending to go home for the holidays.

Whilst your employer must give you the option of taking a set amount of days off a year, there are no rules regarding when and how many days you can have off in a row.

Sick Leave

You can be off work for up to 7 consecutive days before you need to provide your employer with a doctor’s note or ‘fit note’.

You are entitled to statutory sick pay if you normally earn over £112 per week and have been ill for a least 4 days in a row.

If you become pregnant and choose to become a parent, you will be entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave and 26 week unpaid leave regardless of how long you have worked at the company, provided you have given your employer notice (15 weeks before the due date).

As a worker you are covered by equality legislation. Equality law applies regardless of the size of the organisation, the number of employees or the type of work.

Under the Equality Act 2010 the protected characteristics (features which it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of) are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

More information on the 2010 Equality Act can be found here.

It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that your workplace is a safe place to work.

You are entitled to:

  • See your workplace’s written health and safety policy
  • See and have access to a properly conducted risk-assessment of your workplace.

You can find out more information on health and safety responsibilities here.

You have the ultimate right to refuse to work if you do not think your employer is fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure safe working conditions.

Why join a Trade Union?

Trade Unions exist to maintain and improve employment conditions on behalf of their members.

Everyone has the right to join a trade union and cannot be discriminated against for joining one.

Some benefits of joining a Trade Union include:

  • Access to representation during any disputes or negotiations with your employer on matters such as pay, health and safety, hours of work and disciplinary proceedings.
  • Training and development opportunities.
  • Providing assistance and services to their members such as CV writing and legal and financial advice
  • Exclusive member discounts on a range of products.
  • Being able to be part of a network of young members and get involved in campaigns and social events

Unlike a students’ union where you are automatically a member, you have to pay to join a trade union (but don’t let that put you off!) – Unions offer reduced rates for young workers and students, so it can cost as little as £1 a month!

Which Union should I join?

There are a range of trade unions in the UK which represent people who work in different occupations. There are also general unions, which represent workers across a number of sectors and allow people who are not in work to also become members.

You can find the right trade union for you using the Trade Union’s Congress’ guide

To be able to work in the UK you need a National Insurance number (NI number). This applies to students of all nationalities. This is a unique personal reference number for all your tax/ employment affairs.

If you are a UK student you will have received a National Insurance number when you were 16.

How do I get a National Insurance Number?

You will not be charged for a NI number- it is completely free.

To get a NI number, telephone 0800 141 2075 (lines are open 8:00 am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday). This is a free number; you will not be charged for the call, however, waiting times can be long.

You will be asked to answer questions about where you are from and why you are in the UK

You will then either be:

  • Sent an application from to complete and return, together with photocopies of the personal details and visa pages of your passport (this usually applies to international students with visas)
  • Or asked to attend an ‘evidence of identity’ interview at a designated JobCentrePlus Office (this usually applies to students from the EEA but may apply to some international students)

For more information and next steps about your NI number visit the careers service website.

If you work in the UK and earn over £11,850 in the tax year then you will have to pay tax. You can calculate your overall salary from your hourly rate here.

If you work only during University term times it can affect how much tax you pay.

If you think you have paid too much tax you can claim a refund here.

For more information on tax issues that you may face when you first start work as an employee, click here.

If you are studying under a Tier 4 visa you are only allowed to work the maximum amount of hours specified on your visa per week during term time (this is normally a maximum of 20 hours per week but in some instances can be less so make sure you check your visa details for your specific requirements) Outside of term time you can work full time.

A week is defined as ‘a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday’- if you work irregular hours make sure to keep track of the amount of hours you work each day so you are not in danger of going over the maximum hours you can work.

You can find more information on the careers website here.

To work in the UK you will need a National Insurance number. You can read more information on how to apply for a National Insurance Number by clicking our National Insurance tab.