Working during your studies
Employment rights and responsibilities
Many students need to earn money while they study. The University’s Careers Network has a range of resources to help you look for and secure a part-time job.
It is important that you do not work too much in term time, as your studies may suffer.
If you are an international student you also need to check whether your visa allows you to work. Our web pages for international students have more information.
Once you have a job, the employer has legal obligations towards you but equally you have responsibilities to them. It is also advisable to understand your liability to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions. Our information below will provide an overview of these rights and responsibilities.
If you are having a problem on your placement or need to discuss any concerns you are having, we strongly encourage you to contact the Placement team. You should do this as soon as you can and definitely before resigning or taking any action.
Contracts of employment
There is always a contract between an employee and employer. You may not have anything in writing but a contract will still exist. Your agreement to work for your employer and your employer’s agreement to pay you for your work forms a contract.
If you sign or otherwise agree a contract, you agree to keep to any terms which could include:
- The number and timing of days and hours that you work
- The type and location of the work that you will undertake
- Your employer’s dress or behaviour code.
If you don’t know the terms of your contract, you can request a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ from your employer (if the employment contract lasts at least a month) and they must provide this within two months of the start of employment. This statement should include the employer’s name, rate of pay and hours of work amongst other things. The Citizens Advice website gives details of what the written statement should include.
The rights that you have under your contract of employment are in addition to the statutory rights you have under law, such as the right to paid holidays. Your contract cannot take away your statutory rights.
A person is self-employed if they run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure
Some employers may claim that you are self-employed rather than an employee to avoid giving you your statutory rights, such as the minimum wage and paid holiday. If this happens to you or if you are unsure, seek further advice. The Citizens Advice website gives examples of factors that can help determine employment or self-employment.
Students who hold Tier 4 / Student immigration permission are not allowed to engage in business activity which includes being self-employed. If you would like to start your own business after studies, there is the possibility of doing this under a different immigration category – the Start up route.
Tax and National Insurance
If you’re an employee, depending on how much you earn, income tax and national insurance may be deducted from your salary before you are paid. Students are not exempt from paying tax and national insurance. Full information is provided in the Tax Guide for Students. Also see our Tax and National Insurance web pages: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/sass/workingduringyourstudies/taxni/
Everyone has a ‘personal allowance’, which is the amount you can earn per year without paying any tax. The tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April. The amount of any income tax that may be due is calculated for each pay period based on what you are likely to earn over the whole year. If your income fluctuates this may result in an overpayment.
Your employer will use a tax code to calculate how much income tax you owe each month. It is important that you check your tax code to ensure that you are not paying too much tax (check that you have not been given an emergency tax code).
National insurance is calculated differently from tax, it is not based on annual income. If you earn over the relevant weekly or monthly threshold National Insurance is deducted from employees’ wages. Some benefits and pension entitlements are only available to those who have paid a basic level of National Insurance contributions.
Most workers are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Rates change each year and you can view the current rates here.
If you are not being paid the Minimum Wage, seek advice from the Student Advice and Support Service. More information on the minimum wage and increases which normal take effect in April can be found on the ACAS website
Note: A work placement attended by a student as part of their course is exempt from the Minimum Wage rules. Students should beware of employers claiming that other types of internship or temporary work are exempt
Entitlement to Paid Holiday
Almost all ‘workers’ (including ‘employees’) are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year. The number of hours that this amounts to depends upon the number of hours you normally work. In the first year of a new job, you will usually have to accrue holiday before you can take it and your employer should have a ‘leave year’ over which this happens.
Paid bank holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks’ holiday entitlement.
When you start a job check your contract and discuss with your employer how leave accrues and how to book it so that you can plan ahead. Legally you must give notice of leave that is at least twice the amount of time you are planning to take off, but it’s a good idea to give your employer as much notice as you can.
Your employer can turn down your request for leave on particular dates, but they can’t prevent you from taking paid holiday at all.
Maximum weekly working hours
The law says that most workers shouldn’t have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. This includes overtime.
You can choose to work more than 48 hours a week – but your employer can’t tell you that you have to.
If you are over 18 and work more than six hours a day you are entitled to an uninterrupted rest break of at least 20 minutes during the day. More information can be found on the Citizens Advice website.
All employers must offer a workplace pension scheme and automatically enrol workers aged 22 or over into the scheme. Both you and your employer make contributions to your pension. If you are 21 or under, you may be able to opt in to your workplace pension scheme depending on your earnings.
Joining a Trade Union
A trade union is an organisation with members who are usually workers or employees. It looks after their interests at work by doing things like:
- negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions
- discussing big changes like large scale redundancy
- discussing members’ concerns with employers
- going with members to disciplinary and grievance meetings
You can search a list of unions and their contact details via the gov.uk website.
If you have a disability
Under the Equality Act 2010 disabled people have legal protection within their workplace. Student Services can help you consider how much and what type of work you can manage, how to approach your employer about disclosing a disability and discussing any adjustments that you need.
Problems and disputes at work
If you are a worker and have a problem at work, it is best to try to solve it informally by talking to your line manager. However, if you are not satisfied with the outcome you can also make a formal grievance in writing. You can find out more about this on the Citizens Advice and ACAS websites.
If you are unfairly dismissed you may be able to take legal action in certain situations, but you must have worked for your employer for two years to claim unfair dismissal at a tribunal. You can find out more on the Citizens Advice and ACAS websites. If you are a member of a trade union, you can also contact them for support if you have a dispute.
You can find more information about your rights at work: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/rights-atwork