Scotland's largest
and most effective
education trade union

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Created: 24 April 2012 | Last Updated: 08 July 2014 | Printer Friendly Version Printer Friendly Version | Make Text Smaller Make Text Larger |

employment support

Many students work part-time to support themselves through University.  As Scotland’s third largest trade union, the EIS works with other unions across Scotland to improve terms and conditions for workers and ensure workplaces are better and safer.  Here is a brief guide to employment law so that you can be aware of your rights at work.

Both full and part-time workers in the UK are entitled to earn the national minimum wage, and this must NOT include any tips, gratuities or service charges.  The law on minimum wage covers all workers except those who are self-employed, volunteering or are on a government training scheme. 

As of 1st October 2011 the national minimum wage amounts are:
• £5.93 (For workers aged 21 and over)
• £4.92 (For workers aged between 18 and 20)
 £3.64 (For workers aged between 16 and 17)
• £2.50 (For apprentices under 19 or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship)

Holidays & Annual Leave
There is a minimum right to paid holidays.  Some employers will offer more than the legal minimum of 28 days per year if you work 5 days a week.  Part-time staff are entitled to the same holidays as full-time staff on a pro rata basis. 

The facts to remember are:
• You start to accrue leave as soon as your employment commences.
• Your employer can specify when you can take your leave.
• While on leave you will receive your normal rate of pay.
• Public and bank holidays can be included in your minimum holiday entitlement.
• On leaving an employer, you must be paid for any leave you have not taken.

Working hours
Adult workers cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours a week over a 17 week period.  If you are 18 years of age or over and wish to work more than 48 hours a week, you can opt out of the 48 hour limit. 

This must be voluntary and be put in writing and this must not form part of an agreement with the whole workforce.  You cannot be sacked or unfairly treated for refusing to sign an opt-out agreement, and if you do sign one you can opt out of it as long as you give a minimum of 7 days notice. 

This could be longer (up to 3 months) if you have previously agreed this in writing with your employer.  Your employer cannot force you to cancel your opt-out agreement.