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  2. Employment regulations

Employment regulations

The many regulations around employment can often be confusing.

Here we give an overview of some of the most important and immediate regulations you'll encounter in your career: your rights as an employee, equality and diversity in the workplace, National Insurance and income tax.

Employee rights

All employees should be treated fairly and equally. If you'd like to find out more about your rights, please look at the websites listed below.

What are my rights?

  • Trade Union Council - Website includes information and downloadable leaflets concerning employee rights and trade unions.
  • Work Smart - TUC website with all the latest information on employment rights.
  • ACAS - Website for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Concerned with employment relations and offers information and guidance about employee rights and workplace problems. Call: 0300 123 1100.
  • DTI - Employment Relations section of the Department for Trade and Industry website. Good source of information on employment legislation and rights.
  • Citizen Advice Bureau - Advice Guide - employment tips and guidelines.

If you cannot find the answer to your query on the websites above, it may be useful to speak to someone directly. The and ACAS helpline (above) has been set up to offer advice and guidance to people with work-related problems or questions.

Equality and diversity

Jobseekers from different groups can face unfair discrimination. This section provides more information on what the issues are and how you can deal with them.

Equal opportunities

Fortunately most employers in the UK recognise the benefits of supporting equal opportunities within their workplace and more recruiters are becoming increasingly aware of equal opportunities when offering opportunities to students and graduates.

Equality issues relate to factors such as gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, race, religion and ethnicity.

Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws make it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee or potential employee in certain workplaces. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the federal agency that has the responsibility to handle discrimination complaints.

Diversity issues and handling discrimination

How can the Careers Service help you?

The Careers Service can assist you throughout the whole recruitment process, from writing your initial application to advice on negotiating a job offer.

Careers consultants are also open to discuss barriers you may have around the employment process and will be able to support you during this time and/or refer you to appropriate services within the institution that best suit your needs.

Additional support for students at City:

National Insurance

National Insurance refers to contributions made by employers and employees to the Inland Revenue.

What is a National Insurance number?

  • National Insurance refers to contributions made by employers and employees to the Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue distribute the funds to pay for benefits administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • Your National Insurance number (sometimes referred to as an “NI number”) is used as your reference number for the whole social security system, including the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions.
  • The number is made up of two letters, six numbers and another letter: e.g. AB 12 34 56 C.
  • An employer will ask you for a National Insurance number when you start work.
  • They use the number to notify the Inland Revenue and the Benefits Agency of deductions they have made from your salary.
  • Many employers have computerised payroll facilities and they cannot enter you onto their system without a number.

I don't have a National Insurance number

  • Most UK citizens will be issued with a National Insurance number on their 16th birthday.
  • If you are not a UK citizen and have not worked in the UK before then you will not have a National Insurance number. You can still look for work, but you will need to explain to an employer that it is easier for you to get a number once you have been offered a job.

How do I get a National Insurance number?

  • To apply for a NI number you will need to telephone the Jobcentre Plus National Insurance Allocation service helpline on 0845 600 0643. Telephone the office to arrange an appointment to apply for an NI number. (Do not be surprised if there is a long wait!)
  • Registrations Helpline. If you would like information about registering for a National Insurance Number then please call the number below. Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. Telephone: 0300 200 3502.
  • You will need to take some personal documents to the appointment to prove your identity. Ask the Benefits Agency which documents you will need. It may include:
    • Your passport
    • Your National Identity Card
    • Work Permit
    • Birth certificate
    • Proof that you have been offered employment (a letter from your employer / a contract of employment / a payslip)
    • Proof of your address in the UK (such as a utilities bill)
    • Proof of your student status.

Photocopies of the above will not be accepted. Staff will need to see the original document.

  • If you do not have the documents required, you should still attend the appointment, as the staff will be able to advise you on your next steps.
  • Once the procedure has been completed you will be issued with a National Insurance number. Be prepared to wait though, as it can take 12 to 14 weeks to arrive!
  • You will be given a letter confirming that you have applied for the number and a copy of this letter should also go to your employer. You may continue to work while you are waiting for the number to arrive.

How much National Insurance will I have to pay?

Normally you shouldn't pay any NI contributions if you earn less than £155 per week. For specific information please visit HM Revenue and Customs: Rates and Allowances or call the general helpline on 0300 200 3300.

Other useful sources of information:

Income Tax

Everyone who works in the UK must pay income tax as their contribution towards government spending.

What counts as income?

The most common taxable income relating to students includes:

  • Earnings from full or part-time work, including tips and bonuses
  • Interest from National Savings Investments
  • Interest from savings with a bank or building society
  • Any income from self-employment.

Non-taxable income relating to students includes:

  • Student grants and loans
  • Most scholarships
  • Most research awards
  • Housing benefit
  • Prizes for academic excellence.

How is income tax deducted?

  • Every payday, your employer will deduct tax from your earnings and pay it to the Inland Revenue. This is known as the PAYE (Pay as You Earn) system. Tax is calculated according to the level of your earnings.
  • Your National Insurance Number acts as your reference number and must be quoted when dealing with the Inland Revenue and the Benefits Agency.
  • During each tax year (6th April - 5th April) a person receives a tax allowance, which depends on their personal circumstances.
  • The tax allowance for a single person, aged under 67, with no dependants, is £11,000 . Tax is only deducted from income greater than this amount.
  • Although you should not be taxed if you earn less than this allowance, it is often difficult for employers to know, so they may deduct tax from your wages. Once the tax year is over you can claim this tax back if you have not earned more than your personal allowance.
  • For an exact breakdown on how your tax may be deducted visit the HMRC website.

So, which form should I fill in?

  • If you have had a previous job in the UK then your employer should have given you a P45 at the end of your employment. Pass this form on to future employers to inform them of the correct amount of tax to deduct from your earnings.
  • If you have not previously worked in the UK in the current tax year, ask your new employer for a P46. This will help them get the correct tax code for you.
  • If you decide to take another job to supplement your existing employment you will need to ask for another P46. For all secondary jobs, tax will be deducted at the basic rate of 20%.
  • If your employer does not have the correct form you need, they can telephone the Inland Revenue order line on: 0300 123 1074.

I've heard that some students don't pay any tax, is this true?

What do I do when I leave my job?

Make sure you get a P45. You will need this to pass on to your new employer or to get a repayment of tax if you decide not to work again during the course of the tax year. If wish to claim a repayment ask your tax office for form P50.

You can find more useful information by reading HRMC’s tax advice for students.