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Getting paid

So you’ve been working hard and are looking forward to your first paycheque – but there might be a few surprises when the money comes in. Read on to find out more.

When do I get paid?

You'll agree when you get paid with your employer before you start. If your job pays an annual salary, you'll normally be paid monthly. If you get paid by the hour, you'll normally be paid weekly. Most jobs are paid in arrears, which means you need to do the work first before you’re paid for it.

If your usual payday falls on a weekend or a bank holiday, you'll normally be paid early. For example, if you are normally paid on the 25th of each month, in December you'll probably be paid on the 24th instead because the 25th is a holiday. However, in some cases you might be paid late - make sure you check this with your employer so you can manage your money accordingly.

Your payslip

With a few exceptions all employees have the right to receive a payslip or pay statement. This is a written record of:

  • Your pay before any deductions ('Gross pay')
  • Anything that has been taken off your pay, such as tax or student loan repayments ('Deductions')
  • How much is left after these deductions ('Net pay')
  • How you are being paid (eg. bank transfer, cash)

How much should I get paid?

It’s essential that you know and agree your pay with your employer before you start work. This amount should be written down in the contract you sign before starting a job. 

Some jobs advertise a certain amount of pay each year (often called 'per annum' or 'pa'). You’ll get paid one twelfth of the total each month. If you work part-time, you might be paid 'pro rata'. This means that your pay is based on how much you would be paid if the job was full-time. So if you work 20 hours a week and your pay is £12,000 pro rata, you'll actually earn £6,000.

Full-time salary
(40 hours)
Full-time
monthly pay
Part-time salary
(20 hours)
Part-time
monthly pay
£8,000 £666.67 £4,000 £333.33
£12,000 £1,000 £6,000 £500
£16,000 £1,333.33 £8,000 £666.67
£20,000 £1,666.67 £10,000 £833.33

Other jobs pay you by the hour, especially if you're needed for a different amount of time each week. Jobs like this tend to pay you once a week rather than once a month. You might also receive extra pay for working overtime, or for working at night or on bank holidays. In jobs like this, it's important to check your payslip carefully to make sure you've been paid for all the hours you worked.

It’s important to remember that, whether you’re getting paid a salary or by the hour, your employer can’t pay you less than the minimum wage per hour or the equivalent salary. The minimum wage applies to all workers who have reached school leaving age, and how much this is depends on your age and whether you're an apprentice:

  • £7.50 for people over 25
  • £7.05 fro people between 21 and 24
  • £5.60 for people between 18 and 20
  • £4.05 for people between 16 and 17
  • £3.50 if your're doing an apprenticeship and are under 19 or in your first year
There are a few exceptions to the minimum wage, such as if you are working for a family member who you live with or on a work placement as part of a college or university course. Find out more about who gets the minimum wage.

Why have I been paid less than I’m owed?

The amount you actually get in your bank account will normally be less than the amount you’ve earned. This is because some payments are taken out of your pay before it is given to you. These could include:

  • Income tax
  • National insurance contributions
  • Student loan repayments
  • Money you pay into your pension
  • Trade union subscriptions
Although this might make your paycheck a little disappointing, it means that you don't have to worry about paying a tax bill later. See our article Tax explained to find out more.
Apart from deductions that are legally required, like tax and national insurance, your employer can't make deductions from your pay unless:
  • They are in your employment contract, or
  • You have agreed to them in writing
If there are any deductions shown on your payslip that you don't understand, ask your employer about them.

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