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Working student

All you need to know about employment and your rights.

As a student, you may choose to take up full-time or part-time work. You may have been working for a while or you might have just got your first job.

Wherever you are in your career journey, we encourage you to read this information to understand and know your working rights.

Check your employment status

You will fall under one of the following statuses:

  • Employee
  • Worker (zero hours contracts)
  • Self-employed

Employee

As an employee, you will have a contract between you and your employer, even if you don't have anything in writing. By working for your employer and your employer paying you for your work, this forms a contract.

Your employer has to give you a written statement within 2 months of you starting work which must contain certain terms and conditions such as your start date, salary (how much you get paid, including any overtime or bonus pay), as well as:

  • Your hours of work, including overtime hours - there is a legal limit for most employees on the maximum number of hours you can work per week
  • Your holiday pay, including how much time off you’re entitled to
  • Sick pay
  • Redundancy pay
  • How much warning (notice) you or your employer must give if you leave the job

Worker

You would generally be with an agency and be on a zero hours contract. This means you will not be guaranteed a number of hours per week.

Find out more about agency workers

Self-employed

You will be classed as self-employed if you run your business and take responsibility for its success or failure. Self-employed workers aren’t paid through PAYE and don’t have the employment rights and responsibilities of employees.

Your payslip >

Your payslip contains important information, including your payroll number, your gross and net pay, and normally your tax code too. Find out how to read your payslip and what to do if you think it's wrong

Leaving the job

There are two ways in which you can leave a job; resignation (you choose to leave) or dismissal (your employer ends your employment).

If you have been dismissed, your employer does not always have to give you notice but they must show they have acted reasonably and offer valid and justified reason.

They must also:

  • Be consistent - for example, not dismiss you for doing something that they let other employees do
  • Have investigated the situation fully before dismissing you - for example, if a complaint was made about you

Notice period

You must be given at least the notice stated in your contract or the statutory minimum notice period, whichever is longer. However, there are some situations where you can be dismissed immediately - for example, for violence.

Understand your notice period

Outstanding pay and holidays

Before you leave, ensure you are going to be paid for any outstanding work or holidays you might have accured.

Citizen's Advice details the steps you can take

Your P45

You’ll get a P45 from your employer when you stop working for them. This shows how much tax you’ve paid on your salary so far in the previous tax year (6 April to 5 April).

You can check how much tax you paid last year if you think you might have paid too much.

A P45 has 4 parts (Part 1, Part 1A, Part 2 and Part 3):

  1. Your employer sends details of Part 1 to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and gives you the other parts
  2. You give Part 2 and 3 to your new employer (or to Jobcentre Plus if you’re not working)
  3. Keep Part 1A for your own records.

By law your employer must give you a P45. Make sure you ask for one if you don't receive yours .

If you don’t have a P45

You don't need a P45 if you’re starting your first job or if you’re taking on a second job. Your employer will need to work out how much tax you should be paying on your salary.

They may use a Starter Checklist to collect the information or may collect it another way. The checklist has questions about any other jobs, benefits or student loans you have and helps your employer work out your correct tax code before your first payday.

Help and advice

Employment during COVID-19

If you’re worried about work because of coronavirus, there are:

  • Laws your employer should be following to make sure you’re safe
  • Things to think about if you’re deciding whether to work
  • Ways you might be able to keep getting paid if you decide not to work

Your employer might have used the Government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while you’re not working. This is known as being a ‘furloughed worker’.

Job support scheme

The government have announced a scheme for employees who are asked to work less than their normal hours because their employer’s business is affected by coronavirus.

If you’re eligible, the government and your employer will pay some of your wages for the hours you’re not working.

More information about the Job Support Scheme

Sick pay during isolation

You could get SSP if you’re self-isolating because:

You also get SSP if you’re taking extra precautions because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (known as ‘shielding’).

You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

If you think you are not getting the right amount of SSP, talk to your employer. If you’re still not happy, contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) enquiry line.

Redundancy

You might be told you’re at risk of redundancy if your employer has one or more jobs they can’t afford or no longer need.

Your employer has a lot of freedom to choose who they make redundant, but there are still rules they have to follow.

Transfers & TUPE

If your company gets taken over you may be transferred to the new company. If this happens your employment contract will continue and you’ll keep the same terms and conditions with your new employer.

This is called TUPE or a 'transfer of undertaking’.

You can be made redundant because of the transfer if:

  • Your old employer makes you redundant before the transfer
  • Your new employer makes you redundant after the transfer

Your employer must show that:

  • It’s a genuine redundancy (because there’s no longer any need for the work you were doing)
  • The transfer was not the only or main reason for your redundancy

Whistleblowing

You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing. This will usually be something you’ve seen at work, though not always.

The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, for example the general public.

As a whistleblower you’re protected by law, you should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

Please visit GOV.UK for more information

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