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UCL Careers Explains…What to do if you have not been paid by an employer

Skye AAitken21 January 2020

A woman looking a her laptop screen whilst biting a pencil

Any work that you’ve completed in the UK is subject to National Minimum Wage legislation. You’re therefore entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage unless you fall under a category of worker that is not entitled to the National Minimum Wage –  https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage/who-gets-the-minimum-wage.

If you’ve not been paid, and you are entitled to be, you should reach out to your employer and check what’s happening. If you have details of what you are expecting to be paid in writing then ensure you have those to hand. At this point there may just be an easily resolved misunderstanding. There are a few things that might have happened:

  • You may have joined the organisation after the payroll cut off. Payroll can be weekly or monthly. You would therefore be paid for this work in the next pay run. However, if you are struggling financially your employer may be able to help you so do ask if they could pay you earlier.
  • It’s not payday. If you’re used to weekly pay then you may be surprised to find that many roles in the UK are paid monthly. Or potentially your new employer runs payroll at a different time of the month than you’re used to. Lots of employers will pay their employees at the end of the month.
  • Your employer might have the wrong bank details. Make sure you provided these correctly and on time.

Once you’ve spoken to your employer, you’ll hopefully have resolved the situation. However if this is not the case and you believe your employer is unwilling to pay you or has no intention of paying you in an acceptable timescale then you can seek advice from your local CAB, trade union, law centre or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).  See further information about not getting paid at https://beta.acas.org.uk/national-minimum-wage-entitlement/what-to-do-if-youre-not-getting-minimum-wage. You may potentially need to go to an Employment Tribunal.  For more details see https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1366


UCL alum shares experience of volunteering as Chairman of London Gay Men’s Chorus

20 January 2020

Written by Anthony Hull, MSc Construction and Enterprise Management 2011 & Project Manager at Network Rail

Background to the London Gay Men’s Chorus

The London Gay Men’s Chorus started in 1991 when 9 guys decided to sing Christmas carols at Angel Station to raise funds for the Terence Higgins Trust.  It has since grown to become a registered charity with over 300 members.  Other than performing and entertaining, educating and inspiring through song, its mission includes:

  • To provide a safe, supportive community for gay men to socialise, exchange ideas and have fun; and
  • To work with schoolchildren, teachers and parents to eradicate homophobic bullying.

When did you join the LGMC and why?

I joined the LGMC in January 2014. I had been in the choir at school and the work the group were doing and the events they took part in really struck a chord with me and something I felt I would love to be a part of. The rest is history.

Why did you decide to take on a volunteer role within the Chorus?

I felt that I had something to offer the group with my background in project management, as I could see that the work of the chorus consisted of many background parts that may not be immediately obvious. I have never been one to sit on the side lines and say what I think should be done – I want to get in there and play my part.  I particularly wanted to offer some support and give back to an organisation that was providing me and continues to give me such personal joy and contentment. I had no intention or wish to be the chair when I joined the committee, but as my time in various trustee roles lengthened, I gained the confidence to step up and take forward some of the ideas that had been forming in my mind.

As chairman, what are your main responsibilities?

I am both the lead for the internal management of the chorus as well as lead external representative with other organisations and have a varied mix of responsibilities both legal, strategic and operational. Firstly, I lead the Board of Trustees, which on a practical level involves the chairing of meetings and developing of the agenda each month as well as agreeing the roles and responsibilities of those on the board. I also have lead accountability for ensuring that the Chorus is complying with its legal obligations as a charitable company. The second part is strategic in terms of ensuring the chorus has a strategy and action plan in place to meet its objectives across the year and is always looking two to three years ahead, as these are the kind of timescales we need to work to in terms of planning for the shows, performances and tours we undertake. The third element is very practical day to day operations. Our trustee board currently also acts as the management committee, so I oversee a range of issues which require attention. These can be anything from ensuring we have refreshment provision at rehearsals to ensuring we have made our Gift Aid claims to ensure we have a good cash flow.

How have you found balancing your ‘day job’ with your Chairman responsibilities?

This is a huge challenge. My day job is a project manager for a range of construction schemes ranging in value of between £5m to c.£2bn. As with all projects, there are peaks and troughs of activity across a year and the biggest challenge is ensuring that I dedicate a portion of my time to my work as chair, whilst balancing with the needs of what I am paid to do. I don’t always get that right and too much focus in one area can cause a backlog in the other. A key lesson I have learnt is around ensuring I undertake activities in little and often bouts of work, prioritising what needs to be done, working gradually on some of the bigger ambitions our chorus has and also delegating to those who can dedicate time to a given task.

What would you say have been the top three benefits you’ve been able to action on behalf of the charity during your chairmanship?

I would say that the top three issues I have been able to bring in my time since being elected have been a much improved and more professional approach to our management of performances and events, right from the first contact to close out, payment and feedback at the end. I am working to ensure that we plan our years ahead in a much more systematic way in order to ensure that the chorus has a wide range of opportunities for members, whilst balancing the resources and finances available. The third area of activity is to get a greater focus on our financial sustainability. We have many ambitions about how we would like to do new projects, but we need to ensure we have a much more consistent and strengthened position – no different to any other charity no doubt!

Would you recommend volunteering / charitable work to others and if so, why?

Yes, I definitely would. I say this because volunteering and doing charitable work offers a way of enacting change and making an impact in an area which is of personal importance to you. It also allows you to bring skills from your day job and vice versa and brings a lot of satisfaction.

Where can people find out more about the LGMC / get involved in the charity?

You can visit our website at www.lgmc.org.uk for more information. Alongside joining and taking part as a singing member, you can also support our work as a non-singing member. Later in 2020, we shall be appointing external people to our board of trustees to bring a different perspective when making decisions and also skills that we may not have internally at present. Do keep an eye on our website for information about that or contact me on chair@lgmc.org.uk.

Why Startups can be a Perfect Place for Graduates

16 January 2020

Written by Theo Margolius, BSc Economics UCL 2015 & Co-founder of Otta

I didn’t discover how great it was to work for a startup until I moved to work for Nested after 2 years at an investment bank. In this post I explain why you should be considering startups for your first full time job, even though you may have mostly had exposure to large corporates in your research so far.

When I went to a careers event at university in 2014, most companies on the attendee list were established brands with well over 1,000 employees. This makes sense, as universities want to help get all of their students a job and big companies hire the most people. At the same time, large corporations have the time and resources to dedicate to these events (while fast-growing startups are focused on building their company and product). However, just because these firms are the ones you hear the most from, it doesn’t mean they’re the only option.

While graduate schemes at big companies can be good, I strongly believe that going to work for a startup straight out of university can be a great move for lots of people. Here’s why:

  • The growth opportunity is huge compared to corporates. Large corporates are complex machines that need individuals to do very specific jobs for them to function properly. At startups, your role may change and you’re likely to get involved in a wide range of tasks. This gives you more opportunity to learn, explore different parts of the business and develop your skills. At Nested, I saw the company triple in size and moved roles twice within the first 15 months across operations, finance and strategy. Everyone at the company had a good amount of exposure to the CEO, which is unheard of at big corporates
  • You can experience a fresh approach to culture and ways of working. While big corporates are trying to modernise their culture to make themselves more appealing to the next generation of workers, they simply can’t make that shift overnight. At startups you can experience a more flexible approach to work that might suit you better (like working from home on some days)
  • The pay is not always low. There’s a common misconception that jobs at startups are low paid. While it’s true that your pay is unlikely to reach the levels it would at investment banks or consultancies, great startups pay competitively to attract the best talent. While you need to make sure your salary is high enough so that you’re comfortable, I’d argue that the start of your career is not the time to focus on salary and you should be focused on learning as much as you can. As an extra perk, a lot of startups give their employees stock options in the business, which allows you to share in the upside if the company is a success.
  • Our generation wants to be mission driven. You’re more likely to find pleasure from work where you’re having an impact on something that matters to you. You have a lot more chance of finding meaningful work at a startup where you believe in the mission. For example, Flux are trying to get rid of paper receipts and Koru Kids are reinventing childcare options for busy parents
  • There’s no better way to see how to run a business. Joining a small and fast growing company gives you a significantly better overview of how the whole business works and what makes it successful. If you’re thinking of starting your own business early in your career then why not learn how it’s done sooner rather than later?
  • You don’t have to battle with the academic recruiting cycle. Big corporations typically hire for their graduate schemes at the same time of the year, with work on most schemes starting in August/September after you graduate earlier in the summer. On the other hand, startups hire when they need people. This could give you the flexibility to take time off and travel after university then interview with startups when you get back and start shortly afterwards
  • You won’t close doors. It’s unrealistic to expect to find your perfect job from day 1, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Your first job should enable you to learn as much as possible, and if it doesn’t quite work out, you’ll still be able to join a graduate scheme in a year’s time

If these points resonate with you then you should consider launching your career at a startup rather than taking the traditional graduate scheme route. It’s worth noting that choosing the right startup is more of a skill than choosing the right graduate scheme, so it’s important to do your research and get to know the company you’re considering working for more deeply.

At Otta, we’re rebuilding job search. Our product is the smartest way to search for entry-level jobs at startups in London. Find your next role at a fast-growing company by visiting our website. If you want to know more, feel free to email me using theo@otta.co

UCL Careers Explains…What to do if your job underpays you?

Skye AAitken14 January 2020

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

A hand held out holding two coinsFirst off, don’t panic. If you are not a freelancer, you are likely to be legally entitled to receive a payslip – https://www.gov.uk/payslips. This will help you to see what is going on – it may be available through an online portal, through email, handed to you by your employer, or posted to your home. Payslips must be provided on or before payday.

Take a look at the amount that was deposited by your employer into your account, rather than your total account balance. Compare this deposit amount against your payslip.

Payslips must show:

  • Earnings before and after any deductions
  • Total amount of any deductions that you’ve paid, including:
    • National Insurance
    • Income Tax
    • Pension Contributions
    • Student loans (if you meet certain criteria)
  • If you get paid per hour, your payslip has to show how many hours you’ve worked.

Have a look at all the information provided on your payslip, this will help you see how your pay is worked out. The first things to look at when checking you’ve been paid correctly are:

  • Total earnings before deductions – if this matches what you expected it’s likely that you didn’t account for a standard deduction, and your employer has paid you the right rate for the correct amount of hours. It’s worth checking where the deduction came from so you know if it’s a one off, or if this is the standard.
  • Tax rates – have you paid more tax than you were expecting?
  • Hours worked—have you been paid for the number of hours you actually worked?
  • Pay rate – Were these hours paid at the correct rate?
  • Additional pay—If you were expecting overtime, commission or bonuses were these paid? Are you sure they were due in this pay cycle?
  • Holiday pay – were you paid for the annual leave you took? Did you have enough annual leave allowance?
  • Sick pay—If you were off sick this may mean reduced pay
  • Deductions – your employer should clearly state any deductions made, were these lawful deductions?
  • Student Loans– You may have earnt over the threshold for repayment meaning that this has been lawfully deducted from your salary, or if you graduated last year you might now be eligible to pay. Student loan repayments begin on the 6th of April the year after you graduate/leave your course.

How to sort out the issue

If the reason you’ve been underpaid is due to something controlled by your employer it’s worth starting to sort this out by talking to them. Things that can be resolved by your employer include: Hours worked; pay rate; holiday pay; bonuses, overtime, and commission; and sick pay. It is helpful if you work out how much you were expecting and where the discrepancy lies to make resolution easier. If the mistake was made by your employer then you can ask to be paid the additional amount before the next payday. You should not need to wait.

If the mistake was on your side then you may have to wait until the next payday, however in most cases you will need to be paid correctly. If you input your hours incorrectly then your employer must pay you for the time worked, as stipulated in your contract.

If this is your final paycheque from an employer you may find that there are some deductions compared to your normal pay. A common reason for this is that you’ve used more holiday that you’ve accrued. The additional annual leave will be recouped from your final cheque. As long as you’ve received the correct amount as detailed in your contract then this is standard practice.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your employer alone or you work in a larger organisation and don’t know where to direct your query then it might be a good idea to see whether you have an employee representative to help you approach your employer. If you are a member of a trade union then you can get in contactor if you’re a member of a trade union, then a union rep.

If your employer doesn’t resolve this issue, and you feel that you have been underpaid, and are entitled to some/all of the missing pay there are a range of next steps. You should start by seeking advice from your local CAB, trade union, law centre or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (known as ACAS) – https://www.acas.org.uk/.  ACAS provide advice and arrange settlements between employers and workers.

If your underpayment has been caused by paying too much tax this can be easily resolved. You should have provided your new employer with your P45 from your old role when starting this should have informed them of your tax code, which would have been passed on to HMRC so you could be taxed accordingly. If you’ve just started a new job and not worked before or did not supply a P45, you might pay tax through an emergency tax code. This could mean you get less money than you should until HM Revenue and Customs updates its records. Normally this will only be for a month or two at the most. If you’ve been in your job for more than 3 months and think your employer has taken too much money for tax, you’ll need to check your tax code and let HMRC know if it’s wrong. Your pay will be adjusted so you pay the right amount of tax over the tax year.

If you worked during the holidays, or in a short term role, and were taxed as your income met the personal allowance threshold – https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates, but are now not working, or are earning below the tax threshold, then you can receive a rebate. This typically occurs after the beginning of the tax year, with most refunds being issued through your company’s payroll (PAYE) or direct from HMRC around June. See https://www.litrg.org.uk/tax-guides/tax-basics/how-do-i-claim-tax-back/how-do-i-claim-back-tax-i-have-overpaid-through-paye#toc-how-do-i-claim-a-refund-for-the-current-tax-year-if-i-don-t-want-to-wait-for-a-p800-The quickest way to address this is through phoning HMRC rather than going through your employer.

Festive Career Lessons from Elf

SophiaDonaldson16 December 2019

Written by Dr Sophia Donaldson, Senior Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

[WARNING: This post contains spoilers. But, like, surely you’ve seen Elf before, right?!?!!]

Oh man I love Elf. Laughing as a grown man screams with excitement at the prospect of meeting Santa allows me to pretend that’s not exactly how I feel when I see the lights and trees and sparkles go up at this time of year. But you and I both know Elf isn’t just fun and japes. As with all Christmas classics (see our 2018 analysis of Home Alone), Elf carries some serious career lessons. Like stocking fillers you never asked for but now realise you can’t live without, here are just three of them:

There are different ways to work towards the same cause

Buddy grew up assuming he’d have a glowing career as an elf. Then he discovered he’s not an elf. He’s a massive clumsy human and he’s rubbish at making toys. But all was not lost! As with any sector – the healthcare biz, the music biz, the art biz – there are plenty of ways to work towards the Christmas cause. Buddy turned out to be a talented shop decorator, sleigh power-er, and story-weaver, and he used these talents to contribute to his main field of interest: Christmas.

This story resonates with a lot of people. Not the growing-up-in-the-North-Pole-thinking-you’re-an-elf-when-you’re-actually-a-human bit. But the realising-you-may-not-be-the-best-fit-for-your-long-imagined-career bit. If you’re in a Buddy-fix, analysing what attracts you to your “dream” career can help generate alternative options. If it’s the field, subject, or cause that attracts you, our sector themed weeks of career events provide info on a range of paths within the same field (if you missed anything there are recordings and blogs online). Sites like Prospects give a broad overview of roles within various sectors, as well as a handy “alternative” careers list for any job they profile. And you can also go straight to the organisations you admire, and explore all the possible ways you could use your strengths and experiences to help them achieve their goals.

Your work isn’t the only thing that matters 

Buddy’s biological father Walter is a workaholic, placing his job above the needs of his family. But when Buddy runs away, Walter realises his family is more important, and he leaves a crucial meeting to ensure his son is ok.

It’s a classic Christmas trope, and it’s classic because it’s true: work isn’t the only or the most important thing in life. And you know what, even when it comes to actual career-thinking, work itself isn’t everything. Career decisions are influenced by all sorts of factors, not just the types of tasks you’ll be doing day-to-day. Your career happiness will be influenced by the people you work with, the location you live in, the lifestyle your job affords you etc. etc. etc. And the importance of each factor can vary over the years, as you and your circumstances change. So take time to decide what your priorities are, and don’t be afraid to factor them into career decisions, as they can be just as important as the nature of the work you’ll be doing.

Positivity is contagious

Despite suffering a fair few disappointments, Buddy just likes to smile. Smiling’s his favourite. And (rabid raccoons excepted) most who encounter Buddy can’t help but eventually be inspired by the strength of his positivity.

This movie magic happens in real life too. Positivity, as well as negativity, are catching. There’s even plenty of actual real life proper science behind it, involving mirror neurons and stuff. It’s important to remember this during your jobhunt, as a positive attitude will not only keep you pushing onwards during the inevitable disappointments we all experience at times, it will also impact the attitudes of others around you.

No one (not even Buddy) can be positive all the time, but the tiny snapshot of you employers see during an application process needs to leave them with a good feeling. So try to keep your applications and interview answers positive. Tell employers what you do have that’s relevant to the role, not what you’re missing. Talk about the positive reasons you want this new job, not negative reasons you’re leaving your old one. And even when an interview question forces you to be a bit negative – like asking you to describe what you’ll find most challenging about a role – be open and honest, but spend the majority of your answer on positive things, like sharing what you’re already doing to overcome this challenge, and how you plan to continue overcoming it. If you have a real interview coming up you can book a mock interview to get feedback on how you’re coming across.

Happy Holidays and a Merry 2020 to you all. If you’re finding any of this careers malarky tricky, book into a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant, to chat about it.

7 Things We Learned at Media Week 2019

11 December 2019

Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager

Media Week took place at the end of November and we explored the diverse areas within this sector including advertising, broadcasting, publishing, PR, marketing, and journalism. We had a fantastic line-up of speakers across 5 events, including 14 alumni sharing their insights into life after UCL. So, what did we learn?

  1. Be open minded and don’t be afraid to try different things
    From working in a kitchen to doing internships in sectors such as finance, our panellists tried a range of things before embarking on a career in their industry. Being open minded when starting out is often valuable as it can lead to new opportunities that you may have not considered before.

    Perhaps consider the differences between working in an agency and working in house. In agency, you may have a broader variety of projects and there is potential for more rapid career progression, whereas in house you can understand the workings of one organisation in more detail and build relationships with senior stakeholders in the company. Assess which may work best for you and research job profiles for entry level roles like Press Assistant, Junior Account Executive, and Marketing Executive on websites such as Prospects to build an understanding of what is involved in the role.

  2. Take advantage of having London on your doorstep
    With some of the country’s biggest brands and creative agencies based in the capital, it’s a great time to source work experience whilst you are studying at UCL and benefit from the opportunities that many students in universities around the country may not have access to as easily.
  3. There is more competition than ever before in publishing
    Don’t be passive with opportunities as there will be someone else ready to make something of them if you don’t. Make your own luck and demonstrate your curiosity when applying for opportunities. Book-selling skills are incredibly attractive to publishers (working in a bookshop means you know what sells!) but remember that everyone else ‘loves books’ so don’t use this as your USP when writing your application.
  4. Use your network to get a foot in the door
    Networking plays a big part in this industry so think about your network and if there are any friends, family or acquaintances who may have a connection to or work in the industry. You can also try the UCL Alumni Community which offers the opportunity to connect with former students who are now working in a range of roles. Be sure to use LinkedIn as well which allows you to search for and connect with employers.
  5. Like most sectors, there are good and more challenging elements
    There are challenging sides to the industry, particularly at junior level. You may be required to take on a variety of tasks from sourcing props for a campaign shoot, carrying out basic administration duties, and compiling large databases of media and celebrity contacts for a campaign. Gaining experience will allow you to assess if the working environment is right for you.
  6. Follow, and prove, your passions
    Showing evidence of your passion for your chosen field, through work experience, self-driven projects, collaborative work and/ or research, will not only prove to yourself that it’s right for you but it will speak volumes to prospective recruiters / clients too.
  7. Be yourself
    Your uniqueness is a selling point. Develop your interpersonal skills – working in media means talking to all sorts of people so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You never know, the person you’re talking to might be the one to give you your next opportunity!

What next?

Tips on Getting Your Application to No.1 this Christmas… with a Little Help from Santa’s Playlist

10 December 2019

Written by Susanne Stoddart, Recruitment and Selection Advice Manager

Whether I’m wrapping presents to Wham or getting my craft on to Mariah Carey, there’s something about those timeless jingles that always get me in the festive spirit. Staples from the soundtrack to Christmas have achieved astronomical success. Fun fact: Bing Crosby’s White Christmas holds the Guinness World Record for the best-selling single on the planet. But Christmas songs have much more to offer than getting us in the spirit and filling awkward silences at social gatherings. If yule be making applications for summer internships, graduate roles or something else over the holiday period, keep reading to find ways to gather inspiration from Santa’s playlist that could help you sleigh your way onto the shortlist. Here’s three top tips that might stop you making the same mistakes as… last Christmas.

  1. Keep it relevant with key words and skills

It probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that what makes many Christmas songs so popular and memorable is that they include the word ‘Christmas’, as well as other key terms associated with the big day. Musicologist Dr Joe Bennett analysed 200 Christmas tunes and identified the formula for the perfect seasonal song. It apparently must refer to snow, home, peace, love, Santa and sleigh bells, as well as providing precisely 21 mentions of Christmas. So, the successful songs are those that are tailored around, nay created for, the special season.

If you’re busy with applications, be inspired by the golden rules that govern twinkle-toned tunes this Christmas: keep it focussed, relevant and craft each application for the specific opportunity you’re going for. Read the job description and person specification carefully to identify the key words that recruiters use to describe the skills they require. Explicitly refer to these key words and discuss how you meet them in your application. For example, if team work and communication abilities are highlighted as vital for the role, be sure to make a song and dance about your competency in these areas, showing where and how you developed these skills and what the results were.

  1. Show your motivation like Mariah

Mariah Carey’s contribution to the Christmas sound fest – All I Want For Christmas Is You – is arguably the greatest Xmas tune of modern times. It certainly fulfils the Christmassy word quota discussed above, but what other application tips can we extract from this bell-chiming crowd pleaser? Well, there’s no beating about the (holly) bush with Mariah’s lyrics. Far from producing some generic jingle for the holiday season, Mariah’s message is simple yet specific, memorable and consistent. Be inspired by Mariah’s clarity, passion and commitment to what she wants. Do your research on the organisation you’re applying to, write with purpose and convince the recruiter that you really are motivated to work specifically for them… just leave out the bit about waiting underneath the mistletoe.

  1. Forget about the competition

Last year YouTuber Mark Hoyle, aka LadBaby, released We Built This City… On Sausage Rolls, a parody of Starship’s hit. Despite zero singing experience, coupled with tough competition from the likes of Ariana Grande and Ava Max, LadBaby pursued the Christmas top spot. As the song’s popularity soared, LadBaby said,

“I had never sung before in my life. I’ve never done karaoke.

“Now I feel like we can go all the way, and why not? We want a Christmas miracle and get the number one spot.”

But it was more than blind optimism that won the day and LadBaby’s sausage-inspired number was much more than some wacky tribute to an old favourite at the Christmas buffet.  With all profits going to food bank charity Trussell Trust, LadBaby was motivated to raise the money because his own family came close to needing a food bank.

So, be like LadBady when you’re making applications: adopt a positive mindset, don’t fear the competition, and don’t let lack of experience hold you back. Remember that recruiters value the transferable skills that you’ve gained through a wide range of activities, so be sure to sell them well! If you’re motivated about a particular cause or project that appeals to, or connects you with, the recruiter, then you – like LadBaby – can aim high because passion will take you far.

Good luck with your applications this Christmas and remember that if you would like some 1:1 application advice, you can book an appointment with us as UCL Careers.

UCL Careers Explains…Deductions from your pay if you work in the UK

Skye AAitken10 December 2019

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

Under the Employment Rights Act, you have the right not to suffer ‘unauthorised deductions from wages’. There will be some automatic deductions from your pay that are authorised by law – namely income tax, national insurance and student loan repayments

Your employer is not allowed to make deductions unless:

  • It’s required or allowed by law, for example National Insurance, income tax or student loan repayments
  • You agree in writing
  • Your contract says they can – for example, some retail contracts have specific deductions
  • There’s a statutory payment due to a public authority
  • You have not worked due to taking part in a strike or industrial action
  • There’s been an earlier overpayment of wages or expenses
  • It’s a result of a court order

If you work for an employer who pays you a salary directly into your bank account you are likely to be earning via Pay As You Earn (PAYE). Deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance will be made automatically under PAYE.

Income tax is charged on most types of income, including salaries and wages from jobs. If you earn under a certain amount you will not charged income tax – this is called your Personal allowance. For the 2019/20 tax year (from 6th April 2019 to 5 April 2020) this is set at £12,500. You pay different tax rates depending on earnings:

  • Up to £12,500 = 0% tax rate
  • £12,501-£50,000 = 20% tax rate
  • £50,001-£150,000 = 40% tax rate
  • Over £150,000 = 45% tax rate

You only pay the respective tax rate on the income in each tax band. For example if you were to earn £55,000 then you only pay 40% tax on the £5,000 in that tax band. For the lower part of your earnings, you’ll still pay the appropriate 20% or 0%.

Student loans, bursaries and grants do not count toward your personal allowance. The above income tax brackets only apply to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If you’re working in Scotland for more than half the year, then this information won’t apply and the taxes you pay will differ- however chances are you’re working in London!

If you are an international student you may be subject to different tax rules. The rules differ from country to country so it is worth getting further advice to see if this applies to you, and to make sure you are not being double taxed – see https://www.taxguideforstudents.org.uk/types-of-student/international-students/residence-and-domicile/what-is-a-double-taxation-agreement#emin for more information on this.

National insurance contributions are a tax made up of both employer contributions and employee contributions You do not need to worry about the employer contributions.

The contributions help to build your entitlement to certain state benefits, such as the State Pension, Job Seeker’s Allowance, and Maternity Allowance.

National Insurance contributions aren’t worked out on an annual basis like Income Tax, instead they’re worked out on a weekly basis:

  • 12% of your weekly earnings between £166 and £962
  • 2% of your weekly earnings above £962.

If you want to work out how much Income Tax and National Insurance you should be paying you can use the gov.uk calculator – https://www.gov.uk/estimate-income-tax

UCL Careers Explains…Why you need a National Insurance number and how to get one

Skye AAitken3 December 2019

Written by Katharine Evans, Internships and Vacancies Officer at UCL Careers.

A person writing at a deskWhy you need a National Insurance Number

National insurance is a tax on your earnings that goes into the National Insurance Fund which pays for various benefits. You pay national insurance contributions between the ages of 16 and state pension age on earnings.

Your National Insurance number is unique to you throughout your life but you cannot use it as a form of ID. It is made up of 2 letters, 6 numbers and a final letter. Such as: QQ 12 34 56 C.

Everyone who wants to work in the UK must have a national insurance number. You can start work without one but you must then apply immediately. The law requires you to apply for NI number if you do not already have one and you are working or are intending to work.

How to get a National Insurance Number

If you are looking for work, starting work or setting up as a self-employed person, you will need a national insurance number. If you have the right to work in the UK (even if it is only part-time), you will need to telephone The National Insurance Number Application line on 0800 141 2075, lines are open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm. You will need to phone from the UK. You may be required to attend an ‘Evidence of identity’ interview.

There are many services online that offer to get you an NI number for a fee. These sites should be avoided, they don’t provide you with any advantage, and instead charge you for their services, when it’s easy to go the official route and get your national insurance number for free.

Once your application is successful, you will receive a letter confirming your NI number. Take good care of this as it is your reminder of your NI number and you will need to use it when you contact HM Revenue and Customs or the Department for Work and Pensions. As soon as you have your NI number, you should tell your employer.

Careers Q&A | CareersLab

2 December 2019

Written by Joe O’Brien
In this episode, Raj answers your careers questions! He gives his thoughts on whether or not bullet points should feature in cover letters, and answers questions around part-time work. You can send him more questions by emailing careers.marketing@ucl.ac.uk

We’re posting a new CareersLab video every week on the UCL Careers YouTube channel and right here on the UCL Careers blog.

If you’re a UCL student or recent graduate and you have a question you’d like Raj to answer in a future CareersLab video then please email us at careers.marketing@ucl.ac.uk.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and the UCL Careers Newsletter so you never miss an episode.