Employment Rights

A large part of the student community take on some form of work alongisde thier academic studies, this page provides guidance with regard to your rights as an employeee, this would cover any part-time work that you undertake alongside your stuides. We have put together a Student Employment Rights -  How to Guide that details your rights to work according to University regulations whether you are a PGR, PGT, UG, Home or International student all of the details are included in the guide. 

If you are unsure of where to go then do get in touch with us here in the Advice Service - by completing our get in touch form.

Employment Rights Freqently Asked Questions

Can International Students work Part Time?

Full-time students on student visas and studying a level 6 qualification (equivalent to a bachelors degree, a graduate diploma or PGCE) can work up to 20 hours a week during term time. You can only work full time in university vacations or if your course involves a work placement. Your work must be temporary, not permanent, and you can’t set up your own business or be self-employed.

Not all international students on student visas will be able to work, as this can depend on your sponsoring institution and other factors. It’s crucial that you check that working while studying won’t contravene the conditions of your visa, as this could affect your ability to get a UK visa in the future. We would recommend that you check our Employment How to Guide for more detailed information, including specific information on how the University regulations work with regards your ability to work. 


Should I receive a Contract?

All employees should  have an employment contract with their employer. An employment contract, like any contract, isn’t necessarily in writing. If you’ve agreed to do work in return for pay, you’ve got a contract. You must have a written summary of key terms and conditions if your contract is due to last more than a month. 

A contract is an agreement that sets out an employee’s:

  • Employment conditions
  • Rights
  • Responsibilities
  • Duties

For details, see https://www.gov.uk/employment-contracts-and-conditions


How do I get a National Insurance number?

If you are a long-term resident in the UK, you will probably already have a National Insurance Number that was sent to you when you were 16.

If you haven't got a National Insurance Number then you will need to apply for one if you are looking for work, you are able to do this online here  


What rights do I have as a part-time student worker?

In general, if you’re a student who works for an organisation (as opposed to being self-employed), you must be treated the same as comparable full-time workers; that is, workers on the same type of contract with the same employer. This means you’re entitled to the same rate of pay, benefits, holidays, union membership and promotion opportunities as your colleagues (although pay, benefits and similar can be pro rata, ie proportionate to the number of hours you work). You have this right from day one of your employment.

You’re entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year pro rata – so 5.6 times your weekly working hours.


Am I entitled to breaks at work if I'm a student?

If you work more than six hours a day, you’re entitled to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break. Your employer can tell you when to take your break and it should be at some point during your working hours, not at the start or end of the day. You’re entitled to spend your break away from your workspace (eg your desk). However, your break doesn’t have to be paid: this depends on what your contract says.

Regardless of how many hours you work, you’re entitled to 11 hours’ rest between working days. For example. if you finish work at 8pm, you shouldn’t start work again until 7am the next day. You’re also entitled to either an uninterrupted 24 hours without work each week or 48 hours per fortnight.

You can’t work for more than an average of 48 hours a week (although you can agree with your employer to work longer hours with a written agreement that you’ve signed – you might hear this referred to as ‘opting out of working time regulations’).


What is the minimum wage for part-time workers?

As a part-time worker, you have the right to receive the National Minimum Wage (equivalent to the Living Wage if you're 21 or older). This is the case regardless of how many hours you work during the week. Any employer paying less than the National Minimum Wage is breaking the law.. From April 2024 – March 2025, the figures are as follows:

  • 21+ - £11.44 an hour
  • 18-20 £8.60 an hour
  • Under 18 and Apprentice - £6.40 an hour


Do part-time students workers pay tax?

  • University students aren’t exempt from tax; they need to pay income tax and national insurance just as other people do, even on part-time jobs. However, you’ll only pay income tax if you earn more than £1,047 a month on average and national insurance if you earn more than £242 a week.
  • If you’re employed by an organisation, your taxes will usually be deducted for you on a pay-as-you-earn basis (scroll down for guidance on tax if you’re self-employed). If you pay too much tax or are emergency taxed you can claim a refund from HMRC – you need to get in touch directly with HMRC yourself to do this for more information on how to do this click here 
  • You won’t pay tax on all of your earnings – just the amount over your personal tax allowance (£12,570) for the tax year. Student grants, student loans, housing benefits and most scholarships and research awards are not taxed and don’t count towards your personal tax allowance
  • If you work overseas and you’re a UK national, you will need to pay income tax and, if you’re working for a UK company, national insurance. If you work for an overseas employer you won’t pay national insurance but you might need to pay local taxes instead.


What is a Zero Hour Contract?

In general, zero-hour contracts (also known as casual contracts) only pay you for the hours you work. There’s no onus on the employer to guarantee a set number of hours and no onus on you to accept the work, and employers can’t insist you work exclusively for them. Many employers use zero-hour contracts to ensure they have staff available to work at short notice.

Zero-hour workers are entitled to the same minimum wage and working time regulations as other employees including holiday pay.  You’ll usually pay tax as you earn, in the same way as other employees. Within your contract , you’ll get a statement detailing your leave entitlement and pay 


I'm self-employed, What are my rights?

If you’re self-employed, you’re not entitled to be paid the minimum wage and don’t have the same rights as employees to holiday and breaks. You’ll also need to make sure your taxes are paid by registering to fill a self-assessment tax return every year via HMRC.


Where can I get more advice on my employment rights?

We have included a list some of the organisations you can approach if you are facing any issues:-


Additional Sources of Information

  • Government Website Information links
  • Information and Resources for International Students
  • Information and Resources for Equality and Diversity
    • Equality and Human Rights Commission – Includes the Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. Offers advice, information and legal definitions.
  • Information and Resources for LGBT+ Students
    • Starting Out Guide - Tips and advice on job hunting and best practice once you’ve got the job, alongside insights into different employment sectors and details of the most LGBT-friendly employers in Britain
  • Information and Resources for Students with a Criminal Record
    • APEX Trust - information and advice around employment opportunities, training and education. Includes advice on disclosure.
  • Information and Resources for Students facing Religion and Race issues
    • TargetJobs - this comprehensive section has a number of articles offering specific advice around religion, race and ethnicity. Includes information on how to find and identify positive employers and knowing your rights
  • Information and Resources for Students who are Care Leavers
    • In 2024 Carers Leave was written into law.  A summary can be found on the ACAS website ACAS - Carers Leave


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