National Minimum Wage increasing from April 2017

pound-414418_960_720By law, employers are obliged to pay employees a National Minimum Wage, which is the minimum hourly rate a UK worker is entitled to, depending on your age and whether you are an apprentice. These figures adjust every year based on other economic changes.

National Minimum Wage will increase on 1st April 2017, moving further towards the Government’s promise of a minimum hourly wage of £9 for over 25s by 2020.

The new rates from April will be:

  • £7.50 (National Living Wage) – 25 years old and over
  • £7.05 per hour – 21-24 years old
  • £5.60 per hour – 18 – 20 years old
  • £4.05 per hour – 16-17 years old
  • £3.50 for apprentices under 19, or 19+ who are in the first year of apprenticeship

To learn more about your entitlement, visit

If you are affected by any of these changes, and need further support, visit Queen Mary’s own Advice and Counselling Service:


Employment law: Know your rights (Part 2)

Following on from our recent blog Employment law: Know your rights (Part 1), QTemps Recruitment Manager Rachael takes us through some more employment law issues you may encounter when applying for a new role.

True or False … ?

It’s illegal to make me work on a Bank Holiday

FALSE – Although it’s common practice for employers to give time off for a Bank Holiday, it is not a legal right. Some employers may close down on a Bank Holiday which means you will have to take that day off, whereas other employers may pay you more to work for the day, especially in hospitality or retail. Make sure you check your contract to see what you are entitled to.

Nobody can give me a bad reference

FALSE – Your employer can give you a bad reference, however they have to have evidence to support this. For this reason most employers choose not give a good or bad reference nowadays, instead just confirming dates. When leaving a job it’s a good idea to get the details of your manager and ask them if it’s okay to put them down for a reference for your new job. Also ask them if they will just confirm dates or whether they can give you a more detailed reference. Some employers require a detailed reference from your previous employer before you can start.

Verbal agreements don’t count as a contract of employmenthandshake-1205055_960_720

FALSE – Although it is best practice to get a written contract, verbal contractual agreements are legally binding. If you only have a verbal agreement it would be best to push them to get a written contract so there are no disputes about the terms and conditions of your employment.

Lying on your CV can get your fired

TRUE – Technically if you lie on your CV you are committing fraud. If this is found out by your employer, you could not only lose your job but you can be taken to court. If you feel you have to lie on your CV to be selected for an interview then the job is probably not the right one for you.

I’m an intern: don’t I have the right to minimum wage?

TRUE – As an employee of the company you do have the right to minimum wage. To determine if you are an employee you must personally be providing a service or you must be working under a contract. Some industries do not offer paid internships, especially media, arts and music. You can choose to do an unpaid internship to get a foot in the door but you must keep in mind that it is unpaid.

Employment law: Know your rights (Part 1)

True or False … ?

I have the right to minimum wage

TRUE  If you are an employee or worker you are entitled to National Minimum Wage, and National Living Wage if you are over 25, which at the moment is:

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
October 2016 (current rate) £7.20 £6.95 £5.55 £4.00 £3.40

I have the right to time off for exams

FALSE – Unfortunately you do not have the right to have time off for exams. However if you give your employer notice they may allow you to take holiday or time off without pay (unpaid leave). Some companies (especially universities) have policies that allow you to take up to 5 days paid study leave if you are full time or pro rata’d (calculated based on your hours) if not, so it is worth checking with HR or the intranet.

I don’t have to pay tax or National Insurance because I am a student

FALSE – (although not strictly to do with employment law). Everyone who is over 17 and who is earning over £155 per week will have to pay NI. If you earn over £211.00 per week you will also be taxed. Both are calculated based on the amount you earn. Most employment contracts will have a clause stating that you are responsible for your own tax and National Insurance affairs, so it is your responsibility to follow up if you are paying the incorrect amount of tax.

Continue reading

Are you being paid enough? National Minimum Wage increase today

When you start working, it is important for you to know what rate of pay you are entitled to. By law, employers are obliged to pay employees a National Minimum Wage, which adjusts every year match other economic changes. As it stands, the National Minimum Wage for those aged 18-20 is £5.30, and for those aged 21 and over, £6.70. However, from April 1st 2016, the government are introducing a National Living Wage for those aged 25 and over. This will be £7.20 per hour.

To learn more about your entitlement, visit

If you are affected by any of these changes, and need further support, visit Queen Mary’s own Advice and Counselling Service:

Unpaid internships – why they’re not a good idea

I spend a lot of my time talking to students about how they can find work experience, and more often than not the issue of unpaid internships comes up. Now I know that in certain industries unpaid internships are practically the norm and I also know that when the pressure is on to find a job it can be tempting to accept any kind of work experience you can get, paid or unpaid. However, I would always advise students to think carefully before taking on an unpaid internship, and here’s why:

It’s illegal

The UK has laws on National Minimum Wage which means those who work should be paid a certain wage at a minimum. The exceptions to this are if you are doing volunteer work or a work placement as part of your course. Now sometimes the lines between what is voluntary work experience and what is an official internship can be blurred, but I find the best way to think about it is this: if you were not there doing a certain job would the organisation have to pay for someone else to do it? For example, I had a friend who was doing an ‘internship’ with a fashion house and a large part of her role was taking clothing samples to different offices around London for photo shoots. If she had not being doing this (for free) the company would have had to pay a courier – so why were they not paying my friend?

You deserve better

Although as a student or recent graduate you may feel that you don’t have much to offer an employer, you still have skills and abilities that make you valuable, and you deserve for that to be recognised. If a company is profiting from your work then why should you not benefit in the form of proper pay? And if you really do feel that you don’t deserve to be paid, then why not volunteer for a charity instead, where your work will at least contribute to a good cause.

It’s unfair

Unpaid internships require you to have another source of income in order to pay your living costs while you work (usually help from parents or a partner), so if you don’t have this same support you are put at a disadvantage to those who do. And if the only way to get a certain job is to do an unpaid internship that means a whole section of society becomes locked out of certain careers. The more students who do unpaid internships, the more the practice will continue. But if all students decided to boycott unpaid internships companies would have to start paying. Student solidarity is what’s needed!

It may not be worth it

If a company cannot be bothered to pay its interns properly, how likely is it that they will put in the effort to make sure your internship is a valuable learning experience? How much mentoring will you receive? Will you be treated as an important member of a team or as a courier or tea boy/girl? Will they write you a proper reference? (Not so for this poor intern).

Over to you!

What do you think? Are unpaid internships a bad idea? What is your experience of internships, paid or otherwise?

National Minimum Wage – what is it?

canary wharf workers

In the UK, a law on National Minimum Wage means that all employers have to pay all of their employees at least a certain hourly rate. It is illegal for an employer to pay you less than minimum wage.

As of 1 October 2014 the National Minimum Wage stands at:

18-20 years old              £5.13

21 years and over          £6.50

What about unpaid internships?

Here at Queen Mary we will not advertise or endorse unpaid internships. We believe that if you are working you deserve to be paid! We do understand that, in reality, there are many sectors where unpaid internships are the norm, but we would say do think carefully before agreeing to work for nothing (unless it’s for a charity). And you can always come in and have a chat with one of our Careers Consultants about other ways of finding experience.

Too young…too old…it shouldn’t matter!

This article was originally posted on the Reach blog. 

Diversity in the work place is always a good thing and equality and diversity initiatives are more and more becoming a part of the general framework of employment processes and policies. In the same way that any kind of diversity does, age diversity has many positive advantages for the healthy growth and sustainability of a company or organisation. It is important for work places to be able to strike the perfect balance between maturity and youthful energy or experience and enthusiastic spirit. One positive of an age diverse work force is the way in which employees can learn from one another. This post is about highlighting the fact that no matter where you are on the age spectrum, you do have something valuable to bring to the table.

Young and inexperienced?

How about:

–          Desire to take on new challenges and experiences

–          Open minded and prepared to embrace change

–          Fresh perspective and new ways of working

–          Adaptable and resilient as you are perhaps yet to become set in your own way of doing things

–          Familiar with latest technologies

Mature and past your time?

More like:  

–          A great deal of knowledge and experience

–          Focus and better direction

–          Highly developed and refined personal skills

–          Business awareness from previous experiences

–          Traditional business skills and ways of doing things

Many people feel apprehensive about applying for their dream job because they fear they may be too young or too old. Whatever your age, remember that you do have something to offer. Your only job is to ensure that you are able to market yourself and communicate this effectively.