Your First Job: Your Rights & More!

You’ve done it, you’ve got your first job – well done! You might still have some questions about your contract, pay and your rights. This quick guide can hopefully provide you with the answers.

Your Contract

As a worker, you have the right to receive a contract from your employer detailing information such as your official title, wages, holiday and sick entitlement, pension schemes and contracted hours. As well as grievance policies and how far in advance you need to give notice before leaving the job. Contracts should be given within 2 months of starting your new job, therefore if you’re still yet to receive one, then ask your boss.


In your contract, it will state the number of hours you’re legally contracted to work each day/week. For those on zero hour contracts, you aren’t contracted to work ‘x’ number of hours per week. If you’re working full time and you’re under 18, you cannot legally work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week. All workers over the age of 18 are entitled to have at least one day off per week.


Every worker is entitled to earn at least National Minimum Wage, whether you’re a casual, full-time or part-time employee. The amount of National Minimum Wage you’re entitled to depends on your age and more information about exact rates can be found online. Always check your pay to make sure you’re getting paid at least the minimum.


For those over 18 years old, you’re entitled to 3 different types of breaks. First, are rest breaks at work. If you work more than 6 hours in a day, then you’re entitled to have one 20-minute break which is often your lunch break. You don’t officially have to be paid for the time you’re on your break. You also have the right to have a least 11 hours between finishing work and starting work the next day, which is called daily rest. For example, if you finish work at 10 pm, you shouldn’t start your next shift until after 9 am the next day. You’re also entitled to weekly rest, which is either having at least a day off each week or 2 days off every 2 weeks.

If you’re under 18, then you should have a least a 30-minute break if you’re working more than 4.5 hours, daily rest of 12 hours and a weekly rest of 2 full days.


Income tax and National Insurance

You have to pay National Insurance when you’re over 16 and earn a certain amount. By paying for National Insurance, you gain entitlement to benefits such as a state pension. You’ll be given your National Insurance number around the time you turn 16. The number allows all your National Insurance and income tax payments to be linked back to you only. Unless you’re self-employed, most employers will take your National Insurance payments directly from your wages before you get paid.

Income tax is the tax that you pay on the money that you earn. Like National Insurance, most income tax is paid through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, where tax is taken automatically from your wages before you receive them. The amount you are taxed depends on your tax code, with the most common tax code being 1150L. This means you have a personal allowance of £11,500 which you don’t pay tax on. If you earn more than this in a year, then you have to pay 20% tax on your earnings over £11,501. If you’re earning less than £11,500 and your tax code is 1150L, then you shouldn’t be taxed on your income at all.

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