Employment Rights

Employment Rights

Hopefully you will have no problems with your job and you will gain valuable experience and be happy and fulfilled in your work.

However, we have listed some common issues that students should be aware of when starting work.

Finding a Job

Queen’s students are automatically registered with 'My Future' when they enrol at the University. This is run by the Student Guidance Centre and provides lots of career advice, help with CVs, employability mentoring and skills sessions as well as the Job Shop which has comprehensive listings of student and graduate jobs, placements and internships.

You can also look for jobs on job sites such as NI Jobfinder, in shop windows or by asking in bars and cafes.

For advice on looking for work, training opportunities and extra help with getting into work, see nidirect's information on Looking for work.

Contract of Employment

Your employer is required by law to give you a Statement of Main Terms and Conditions by the end of your second month of employment.

You may also get a written contract but even if you don’t, that doesn’t mean that you are not an employee – with rights!

For guidance on employment contracts and conditions, pay, working hours and more, visit nidirect's information on Employment terms and conditions.


If you take a job you have the right to be paid at least the minimum wage. This is true however you’re paid: cheque, cash or BACS. You should get a wage slip from your employer detailing wages, hours and deductions, these are very often emailed to you so make sure you keep them.

Current rates (August 2016)

These rates are for the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage. The National Living Wage was introduced in April 2016 and is the rate that applies to employees over 25 in the table.

Apprentice £3.50
Under 18 £4.05
18-20 £5.60
21-24 £7.05
25+ £7.50

National Minimum Wage rates change every October. National Living Wage rates change every April. You can check what the current rates are at NI Direct.

*TIPS: if you work in the hospitality industry and receive tips, these cannot be counted towards your wages, however you may be liable to pay tax on them.

It is against the law for an employer to pay you less than the appropriate minimum wage. For more information about what you can do see NI Direct.

You are protected from being dismissed from your employment for asking to be paid the minimum wage (see the 'If You're Dismissed' section below)

For more help you can contact:
Advice SU: studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
Labour Relations Agency: 02890 321442

Holiday Pay

All employees are entitled to holiday pay by law. The Statutory minimum is 5.6 weeks or 28 days for someone working 5 days a week. You may be entitled to more under your contract.

Even if you are a part-time worker, an agency worker or you work under a Zero hours contract you are still entitled to a percentage of your hours as paid holiday. If you work irregular hours/shifts it can be difficult to work out, so you may need help, try gov.uk

You start accruing holiday as soon as you start work and when you leave a job you are entitled to be paid for any holidays you have accrued but not taken.

You are protected from being dismissed from your employment for asking for your Statutory holiday entitlement (see the 'If You're Dismissed' section below)

Visit nidirect's information on Time off and holidays to find out about your rights to paid holiday, how much you get and taking time off for certain circumstances.

For more advice contact:
Advice SU; studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
Labour Relations Agency: 02890 321442

Sick Pay

You may be entitled to sick pay under the terms of your contract- Company Sick Pay, however, if your employer does not have a scheme you may still be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The conditions are complex, but an overview is that you may be entitled to SSP if you are sick and incapable of work, and:

  • You are an employee who is sick for at least one qualifying day per week. A qualifying day is one where you would normally be required to work
  • You must be sick for at least 4 days (the first 3 are ignored)
  • Your normal weekly earnings have been more than the threshold for paying National Insurance (currently £112/pw) for a period of at least 8 weeks before your period of incapacity
  • You inform your employer that you are sick as soon as you can (you must do this within 7 days to qualify for SSP)

Casual and bank staff are generally not entitled because they are not required to work.

There are various exceptions to these rules, if you believe your employer should be paying you SSP but isn’t, seek advice as soon as you can.

There are protections in place to prevent employers from dismissing employees to avoid paying SSP.

If you take time off from work due to illness, you might be entitled to sick pay - see nidirect's information on Sick pay rights.  

For more help contact:
Advice SU; studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
Labour Relations Agency: 02890 321442

If You're Dismissed

In Northern Ireland employees must be employed for one year before they have rights under the Employment Rights Order 1996 to make a claim for unfair dismissal or for two years before they are entitled to Statutory redundancy pay.

This means that if you have worked for less than a year, your employer can dismiss you without a ‘good’ reason (i.e. they don’t need you anymore or they’ve changed their mind about employing you).

However, if you believe that your employer has dismissed you for a reason that discriminates against you, that may be deemed ‘automatically unfair’ and the one year’s employment hurdle does not apply. Please contact Advice SU or Labour Relations if you feel this applies to you.

If you have been employed for longer than a year, then your employer must follow Statutory procedures before dismissing you and must be able to justify their reasons within the legislation.

There are strict time limits for making a claim for unfair dismissal so if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, you should seek advice as soon as possible.

For advice and guidance on what to do if you have been dismissed, if it is fair or unfair and what notice and notice pay you are entitled to, visit nidirect's information on Dismissal.

For more help you can contact:
Advice SU: studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
Labour Relations Agency: 028 9032 1442
Citizen’s Advice: 0300 1 233 233 

Further Help and Info

  • Us at Advice SU: studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
  • Trade Unions can provide support and representation for members as well as training, offers etc. You can easily join a Trade Union online. The cost of the subscription will vary depending on your income and remember you will need to join before you need them to represent you!
  • Law Centre NI Encyclopaedia of Rights is a useful resource of in-depth information
  • Labour Relations Agency: 02890 321442
  • Citizen’s Advice: 0300 1 233 233


Debbie Forsey
Money Management Adviser

phone icon 028 9097 1166
email icon studentadvice@qub.ac.uk
address icon Second Floor
Students' Union
clock icon

Email to book an appointment or pop in during our Drop-In sessions:

Mon: 2pm - 4.30pm
Wed: 2pm - 4.30pm
Fri: 9.30am - 12.00pm

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter youtube