Taking on a job while studying is a huge responsibility. While some students are lucky enough to have help from their parents or a sizeable loan that covers living costs, the majority are obliged to look for work to fund themselves through university. This means that they need a job that fits in with their timetable. As a result, many choose restaurant or bar work, something that’s not stressful enough that it impacts their studies. So, what exactly are your rights when you’re a working student? Let’s demystify the world of student employment.

Employment Rights: What is the National Minimum Wage?

Currently, the national minimum wage for 18 to 20-year-olds is £6.15. This jumps to £7.70 for 21 to 24, and rockets to £8.21 for 25 and over. You are entitled to these wages as an absolute minimum, but some employers may choose to pay their workers more than the national minimum wage.

If you’re studying in London, there’s good news – you’re entitled to more (if you’re over 25)! The London living wage is different to that of the rest of the country. As it stands, the London Living Wage is £10.55 for those over 25 years old.

Employment Rights: Are There Any Special Rights For Working Students?

There aren’t necessarily any special rights for working students, but you are given some exceptions, such as council tax. Students who live in a house with other full-time university students don’t need to pay council tax. In some cases, they may only be subject to a 25% discount if there’s only one adult in the house. To qualify for council tax discounts your course must last at least one year and involve at least 21 hours of study per week.

On the other hand, if you’re studying in college for A levels and you’re under 20, your course must last at least 3 months and involve at least 12 hours of study per week.

Employment Rights: Sorting Out Taxes

Although students might not have to pay council tax, they do still need to pay for income tax and National Insurance in the same way as other workers. You are, however, entitled to earn up to a certain amount before you need to start paying tax. This is referred to as your Personal Allowance. As of 2019, the Personal Allowance in £12,500. When you earn above this amount, you need to pay tax on the difference. So, if you earn £20,000 a year, you’ll be taxed for £7,500 of that.

Employment Rights: Breaks During the Working Day

Any employee is entitled to an uninterrupted break during their working day. If you’re working for 4.5 hours, you should receive a 15 minute break. If you work for more than 6 hours, you’re entitled to a 30 minute break, which may include the first 15 minute break. When you’re working for more than 6 hours, you should take a one-hour consecutive break.

For under 18’s, this is slightly different. They are entitled to a 30 minute break if they work more than 4.5 hours, a daily rest of 12 hours and a weekly rest of 48 hours. Young workers have the right to compensatory rest if they can’t take daily rest or rest breaks at work. If employers refuse to cooperate, they can contact corporate solicitors Manchester offers who will be happy to dispute this on their behalf.

Employment Rights: Equality and Diversity Laws

All workers are covered by equality legislation. This means they cannot be discriminated against based on their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership
  • Religion and beliefs
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race

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

Employment Rights: Taking on Apprenticeships

If you’re interested in becoming an apprentice, you’re looking at a minimum hourly rate of £3.90. Pretty pitiful if you’re hoping to pay rent and bills while learning a trade. Alternatively, internships are also popular, particularly those who are looking to enter creative industries. Unfortunately, companies offering internships have no obligation to pay interns when they’re defined as ‘work experience’ or ‘work placements’. For more information, visit this page.