National minimum wage

Most workers in the UK aged 18 or over are entitled by law to a national minimum hourly wage, regardless of where they work, the size of the firm or the worker’s occupation.

The NMW is fixed at different rates for certain groups of workers, depending on a number of factors, including age.

Placement students on sandwich courses are exempt from the National Minimum Wage.

For information about the NMW contact ACAS, a national organisation, on 0300 123 1100.


An employee always has a contract of employment with her/his employer. The employee may not have anything in writing, but a contract will still exist.

This is because the employee's agreement to work for the employer, and the employer's agreement to pay the employee, forms a contract.

A contract gives both an employee and an employer certain rights and obligations. The most common examples are that an employee will have a right to be paid for the work that s/he does and may have a right to holiday pay. An employer has a right to give reasonable instructions to an employee and to have a job completed by the employee to a certain standard.

An employee's rights fall into two categories; statutory rights and contractual rights. Statutory rights are given by Parliament and upheld by law and can only be changed if the law is changed. They apply to every person who qualifies for them. Contractual rights however vary from contract to contract and will only apply to the people who are involved in the contract.

A contract of employment will usually be made up of three types of contractual terms. These are:-

  • express terms (explicitly agreed between the employer and employee, for example, wages or hours of work);
  • implied terms (which are not specifically agreed between the employer and employee e.g. mutual trust, duty of care);
  • statutory terms (the right to receive notice, receive the minimum wage, redundancy pay, return to work after maternity leave, not be unfairly dismissed and not be discriminated against on the grounds of race or sex).

Most students need to find a part time job to supplement their income, so make sure you understand your rights & responsibilities at work, and where you can turn to when things go wrong.

For any employment questions you can also contact ACAS, a national organisation, on 0300 123 1100.

Seeking part time employment? Contact the Students' Union's Jobshop.