International Pre-arrival ModuleWorking

Working while studying

It's the UK Government, not the University, that decides whether you can work while studying in the UK.

Balancing work and study:

  • you may wish to work part-time while you are a student in the UK. This can help you with money for your studies. It can also develop skills to help you get a job when you finish your course
  • the sticker on your passport, or your biometric residence permit (BRP), will state the number of hours you are permitted to work. The UKCISA website will tell you how to check this
  • you should not work for more than the permitted hours per week. If you do not obey this, then you may risk your student visa
  • the UKCISA website provides information about how many hours you can work and what kind of work you can do  
  • most universities will advise that students don’t work more than 15 hours a week. Balancing work and study can be challenging
  • you're also not allowed to set up your own business, or work freelance, whilst you're on a student visa

What to expect from work

Getting paid

When and how often you get paid is usually agreed upon between you and the employer before you start the job. Although wages are typically paid monthly, they can be weekly or even daily. Your employment contract should have this information.

Some employers might pay you in cash. The most common way of receiving your wage is through your bank account.

Either way, you should get a payslip that details how much you have earned and how much tax you have paid.

In the UK, there is a National Minimum Wage (NMW). This is the minimum hourly rate you can expect to be paid and is dependent on your age. Employers can pay an hourly rate that is above the NMW, but not below.


This is the amount of money you would earn in one year. This is usually based on working a certain number of hours each week.

Hourly rate

This is the amount you earn for every hour that you work. The more hours you work, the more pay you’ll receive.

Zero Hours Contract

A zero-hours contract is a non-legal term for a contract between an employer and a worker. The employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours. And the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered.

Workplace benefits

Paid holidays

Almost all employees are entitled to paid Annual Leave. The number of days allowed will vary by employer. There is a legal minimum of 28 days per year for full-time employees. The entitlement for part-time workers is based on the full-time allocation. It's calculated by how many hours they work. Further details, including a calculator to work out the annual leave entitlement for part-time workers, is available on the Government website

Paid sick pay

Companies either operate their own Company Sick Pay policy. Or pay Statutory Sick Pay. Company policies on sick pay vary by employer. Details of Statutory Sick pay can be found on the Government website 

Tips and gratuities

If you work in hospitality you may be allowed to keep any money that you're given by customers for providing good service. It may be company policy to gather tips together to distribute between staff. In some cases, an employer may keep a percentage of pooled tips or tips paid for by credit card.

Health insurance

UK employers do not usually provide health insurance. Healthcare in the UK is provided via registration with an NHS doctor and dentist.

Work culture

There may be considerable cultural differences between the UK and your home country. You may find it helpful to think about what is expected of you as an employee in the UK.

Employers want to know that you have the potential to do the job. And that you have the right attitude and motivation to succeed.

A positive approach and willingness to learn are important. Employers will not expect you to be able to do the job from day one. But they will expect you to listen, learn and ask questions if you are unsure.

While getting to know your colleagues, don't ask intrusive, personal questions. For example, it's not acceptable to ask about marital status or religion. Asking these kinds of questions may cause offence.

Shaking hands is the formal way to greet someone in the UK. It's common to shake hands when you meet someone new. Or if you're meeting someone that you don’t see regularly. Immediate colleagues don’t usually shake hands on a daily basis. It's also polite to smile and make eye contact with the person you're greeting.

After the pandemic, there may be restrictions on social distancing. And changes to working practices. That might mean shaking hands is no longer expected. Wait to see if your employer or colleague offers a handshake first.

Expectations of appearance and clothing vary between different industries and organisations. If you're unsure about the dress code, either ask someone before you start work. Or dress smartly at first and adapt to how others dress in the workplace.

Bar work, hospitality, and retail jobs will often ask you to wear a uniform or have a standard dress code. You need to wear what they ask you to, but they should make reasonable adjustments if you have good reasons. They should not ask you to pay for your uniform.

Most office-based roles have a smart dress code. They may incorporate a 'dress-down Friday. Here staff can wear clothes that are a little more casual.

Even if the workplace has a relaxed dress code, always dress smartly to attend an interview.

Time-keeping is very important in the UK and you should arrive on time for work and for meetings. If you're going to be late for any reason you should let someone know at the earliest opportunity.

Different organisations might have different rules. Important rules and policies should be explained when you start a new job. Ask questions if you're unsure.

The standard working week in the UK is Monday to Friday from 9am until around 5pm. But different organisations and sectors might be different. Depending on the industry you work in, you might be expected to work beyond your regular hours. If you're part-time and paid hourly, you should always be paid for the extra hours you work

The culture of the workplace can also have an impact on the hours that employees work. In some workplaces, there may be a culture of working long hours that employees adapt to fit in.

The hours worked in part-time jobs will depend on the needs of the employer. For example, evenings and/or weekends for retail and hospitality jobs.

All employees should be treated equally in the workplace. A person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of:

  • age
  • gender
  • marital status
  • pregnancy and maternity leave
  • nationality
  • ethnic background
  • race
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment
  • disability
  • religion/belief
  • nationality

How to find work

It's a legal requirement for everyone working in the UK to have a National Insurance (NI) number. You can only apply for a National Insurance number once you're in the UK. If an employer does not ask to see yours, please be cautious about working for them.

You must be eligible to study or work in the UK to get a NI number.

You can start work before your NI number arrives if you can prove you are allowed to work in the UK.

Employers will ask you for your NI number and visa details to prove your eligibility to work. If you don’t have your NI number yet, tell your employer that you’ve applied for one, and give it to them when you have it.

The types of jobs available in Glasgow and surrounding areas can vary.

If you don't want a long-term, part-time job there may be vacancies where you work for one or two days. There are always temporary jobs available in the lead-up to Christmas. This is true in the retail and hospitality industries.

Local, part-time jobs are advertised through the Student Union JobShop 

Further advice on finding part-time work

Once you are registered as a Strathclyde student, log on to MyCareerHub Strathclyde. This advertises graduate vacancies, placements, internships, and international opportunities.

Local advertising - many shops and restaurants/bars put job adverts in their shop windows. Other employers will advertise on their websites.

Local newspapers have recruitment pages. The Evening Times newspaper on a Monday. And the Daily Record newspaper on a Thursday.