Your rights when working

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour which most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. With a few exceptions, it applies to all workers over the compulsory school leaving age. The rate is reviewed every year. Any changes take place in October. All employers have to pay the NMW to workers who are eligible for it – there are no exceptions for different types or size of employer. Where you work in the UK makes no difference to the level of NMW you should receive.

There are different levels of NMW, which depend on your age. The rates from 1 October 2014 are:

  • Adults (which means people aged 21 and over) receive the full rate of £6.50 per hour
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 inclusive, receive a rate of £5.13 per hour (often known as the developmental rate)
  • Young workers receive £3.79 per hour (often known as the youth rate)

A young worker is someone who is older than school leaving age and younger than 18. You are under school leaving age until the end of summer term of the school year in which you turn 16.

You can contact the National Minimum Wage Helpline (0800 917 2368) or visit the website for further help and advice.

Deductions from wages

Your employer is only allowed to make a deduction from your wages when it falls into certain special categories, such as for tax or for recovering previous over payments. If you think that part or all of your wages have been wrongly deducted or withheld by your employer then you should seek advice as soon as possible.

We strongly recommend that you keep all payslips for three years in case there are any tax queries at a future date.

You can be paid in cash, by cheque or by standing order into your bank account. The important thing is that you get paid: don’t let your boss get away with not paying you, or offering to pay you ‘in kind’. If you think you are not being paid some or all of the wages owed to you, if you are not getting a  proper payslip, or if there is some problem with how much you are getting paid, please seek advice as soon as possible. 

Please visit the website for more information.

For more useful information about deductions from wages visit the Tax Guide for Students website.

National Insurance

Anyone that works in the UK must apply for a National Insurance (NI) Number, but you do not need to have received your NI Number before you can start work.

If you were born in the UK you should have received a National Insurance Card around your 16th birthday, if you were living in the UK at that time.

If you have never received a National Insurance Number ( for example if you are an international student) you will need to apply for one and can do so by contacting Jobcentre Plus on 0845 600 0643.

Please see our Guide to National Insurance for more information.

Working Time Regulations

In 1998 the Working Time Regulations were implemented to ensure that UK legislation complied with EU standards. This means that in most circumstances there are legal limits on the number of hours your employer can force you to work and special rules for the number of unpaid rest breaks you are entitled to.


From 1 April 2009 all workers have a statutory right to at least 5.6 weeks’ paid annual leave (that is at least 28 days' paid holiday if you work five days a week). Your employer could choose to include bank holidays in the 5.6 weeks.

You do not have the right to choose when you take your holiday and your employer can bar you from taking holidays at certain times of year. You should give your employer sufficient notice when you want to take holiday.

If you leave your job with holiday pay owing you are entitled to holiday pay related to how long you have worked. If you have not taken any holiday and your contract entitles you to 5.6 weeks paid holiday but you leave after 6 months you will be entitled to 2.8 weeks holiday pay. If you have taken more holiday in the period than you should have done then you may have to pay it back.

Please visit the website for more information.

Page last updated: Wednesday 01 October 2014