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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

Know your Rights

Know your Rights

It is important to know your rights when starting a part-time job. Durham Students' Union have dedicated pages for this and information on Trade Unions as well. You can look at their pages and find support from them here:

Please take a look below at some important information to know about employment law and if you have any questions/concerns why don't you make an appointment with the Student Employment Coordinator here:

What will I be paid?

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The UK has a National Minimum Wage (NMW) which must be paid to employees. These rates are updated each April.

Employers must pay their workers a minimum amount as defined by law. This is called the National Minimum Wage for those aged under 25, and the National Living Wage for those aged 25 and above.

If you think that you are not being paid the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage please contact the Student Employment Service for advice.

Payment is usually made into a bank account but you may be paid in cash (please note cash in hand without deductions is illegal and both you and your employer could get in to trouble). You should receive a payslip with your wages which shows the number of hours worked, the rate of pay and the amount of pay, both before and after deductions.

Further information

More information on the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage is available on the Direct Gov website.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Pay and Work Rights Helpline gives confidential help and advice on employment issues such as the minimum wage.

Call the helpline on 0800 917 2368 or 0800 121 4042 (textphone for people who are hard of hearing or have speech difficulties).

Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am- 8pm and Saturday 9am-1pm.

National Insurance Number

You will not be charged for a National Insurance (NI) number – it is completely free.

To be able to work in the UK you need a National Insurance number (NI number). This applies to students of all nationalities. This is a unique personal reference number for all your tax/employment affairs.

If you are a UK student you will have received a National Insurance number when you were 16.

To get an NI number, telephone 0800 141 2075 (lines are open 8:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday).

Student Visas

If you are an international student you are allowed to work as long as your visa entitles you to work during your study. You will normally be allowed to work up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during holiday periods. However, whilst your visa may allow you to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, University guidelines recommend working a maximum of 12 hours per week.

Equal Rights

As a worker you are covered by equality legislation. Equality law applies regardless of the size of the organisation, the number of employees or the type of work.

Under the Equality Act 2010 the protected characteristics (features which it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of) are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

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

Safe Place to Work

It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that your workplace is a safe place to work. You have the ultimate right to refuse to work if you do not think your employer is fulfilling their responsibility to ensure safe working conditions. Find out more about what employers must provide in terms of a safe place to work here

Break-time entitlements

By law, after 6 hours of continuous working, you are entitled to a 20 minute break.

Working time regulations (WTR) cover your employment rights to make sure you do not work excessive amounts.

You cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours in a single week; your boss can ask you to work more than this, but this request must be made in writing and in advance.


You can be off work for up to seven consecutive days before you need to provide your employer with a doctor’s note or ‘fit note’.

You are entitled to statutory sick pay if you normally earn over £112 per week and have been ill for at least four days in a row.

Holiday Pay

All workers are legally entitled to a certain amount of holiday per year (unless you are self-employed or on a temporary contract).

Full time workers get at least 5.6 paid holiday weeks a year (whether this includes bank holidays is up to your employer).

For part time workers you are entitled to a proportion of those 5.6 weeks, depending on how many hours/days you work.