Employment Rights and Information

This is a summary of some of your employment rights and related information. Always contact an adviser or professional if you have a problem or are in doubt as these are summary points only and may be subject to change.

Contract of Employment

You should get a written contract of employment within two months of starting your job. The contract will state your terms and conditions of employment including:

  • start date
  • finish date if a temporary contract
  • how many days holidays you get in a year
  • how much you will be paid
  • what bonus payments you are entitled to
  • your hours of work
  • how much notice you need to give if you decide to leave
  • grievance and disciplinary conditions
  • maternity rights

Always check your contract before you sign it. It can be difficult to ask but, for example, if you are given the contract at an interview ask to take it away to look at it so that you know you are accepting a fair deal. You should keep all letters or papers that your employer gives you for future reference.

Money, P45 and ‘Lying Time’

It is important that you get paid the amount agreed at your interview or in your contract of employment. When you start work you should give your employer your National Insurance Number and if you’ve had a job before, your P45. Your employer will have explained the pay date (weekly, fortnightly or monthly) and method (cheque, cash or bank transfer) to you before you start If it is your first job you won’t have a P45 and your employer will give you a form P46 to fill in and sign. Your employer will use an emergency tax code until the tax office writes to them to confirm what code to use. It is not unusual to have ‘lying time’. This means you will not get paid until your second pay day. This money is held by the employer as security in case you leave without working notice. Any money earned in ‘lie’ time will be paid to you should you leave that employer.

Gross Pay and Net Pay

You are legally entitled to a payslip which shows: Gross Pay – the total amount of pay before any deductions Additions – you may be entitled to claim expenses or paid a bonus or overtime; these will be added to your basic gross pay. Deductions – tax due, national insurance due, and if relevant to you - student loan repayments, pension contributions, union membership, childcare voucher scheme or other work place schemes administered by your employer. Net Pay – the amount you are paid after your gross pay has been adjusted by additions and deductions.

Hourly Paid/Salaried

If you are paid hourly, make sure you are paid for the number of hours you work. Many employers will ask you to keep a time sheet where you note all the hours you have worked. If you don’t think you have been paid for the correct number of hours, tell your manager straight away and they will help you sort it out. If you are paid a salary you will have agreed a total amount per year that you will be paid. Your employer will divide this total into equal payments, generally paid on a monthly basis.


Before you start to pay income tax you are entitled to earn a certain amount of money that is not taxed; this is called free pay. The free pay in a year is determined by the government and is notified to your employer through your tax code. Your employer will make this adjustment when they calculate your pay. If an employer does not have the correct tax code for you, you could end up paying too much or too little tax, so it is important that you give your employer a P45 or complete a P46. If you are in employment at the end of the tax year (April 5) your employer will give you a P60. This is a summary of your pay and the tax that has been deducted from it that year. It can also be used to help you get a tax rebate if you have paid too much tax. Your employer has to provide you with a P60 as you’re entitled to it by law if you are still working for them on April 5. It is an important document and should be kept as a record of earnings.

National Insurance Contributions

When you reach 16 you will automatically be sent a National Insurance Number. If you do not have one please telephone 0845 600 0643 or Textphone 0845 600 0644 If you earn over a certain amount of money you have to pay National Insurance. Your employer also has to pay some contributions. Further information is available from the National insurance helpline on 0845 302 1479. Tax and National Insurance Contributions both go towards paying for services that the Government provides for us at various times such as Education, Health and Pensions.

National Minimum Wage

An employer must pay you no less than the appropriate minimum wage rate for your age. This came into force in April 1999 and the current rates are:

Hourly Rate from April 2019:

Age 25 and over - £8.21 (National Living Wage)
Age 21 – 24 inclusive - £7.70
Aged 18 - 20 - £6.15
Aged under 18 - £4.35
*Apprentices - £3.90

*Apprentices are entitled to the apprentice rate if they’re either: aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship

Apprentices are entitled to the minimum wage for their age if they both: are aged 19 or over, have completed the first year of their apprenticeship
There is no minimum wage rate for anyone under 16. The national minimum wage rates usually change every year. For updates and further information on all pay, tax and national insurance and benefits, visit the website at: gov.uk or contact your local Job Centre Plus (see contact details in the Benefits section).
The Pay and Work Rights Helpline will give you confidential help and advice on any of the employment rights covered in this information plus many more. Their telephone number is 0800 917 2368 .


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