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Recruiting: Pay & Agreements

National minimum wage

There are relatively few scenarios in which a student would NOT be entitled to National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage for student aged 25+)

Appropriate wage

In order to attract the best candidates, from the most diverse pool of prospective applicants, consider what the appropriate wage/salary should be for your role.

Identify an appropriate min-max window by checking current National Minimum Wage and the current average graduate salary. You may then wish to narrow it down based on any or all of the following:

  • What do you pay your other staff, and why?
  • How much can you afford?
  • Will compromising on your intern's salary be a false economy in terms of what you need from the internship?
  • – in exchange for your own (anonymised) salary details, you can access job title-based information about salaries across the UK, by region and industry
  • Please ensure that you understand your responsibilities, including PAYE processing, NI etc, as this is an area that is increasingly monitored and there are large fines for breaching this legislation. See for more information
  • If you wish to run payroll for your intern externally, you can use a temp agency, for example the University's own agency, Unitemps, to do this for you
You need to pay for any expenses incurred by the intern as they carry out their role, e.g. Travelling on your behalf, or purchasing meals while at an event. Expenses cannot be included as part of an intern's basic pay (although they may be processed at the same time if this is how you run your payroll) and you cannot apply a flat rate 'to cover expenses'.
Holiday pay
Letter of Agreement

We would always recommend creating and signing a Letter of Agreement, no matter how brief, that sets out the business’s name, the employee’s name, job title, duties and responsibilities, pay, hours, place of work, duration, start date and end date, any probationary, notice period and disciplinary procedures, to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the nature of the internship from the start. This is for your benefit, but also helps to professionalise the situation and start the internship as you mean to go on. This is also where you would specify any terms relating to your intellectual property or confidentiality policies. For further information on employment contracts please refer to

Supporting students with disabilities
Reasonable adjustments may need to be organised for an intern with a disability in accessing facilities, training and/or performing the internship. Support may be available from Access to Work.
Watch out!

An easy mistake to make would be to employ a student to work for 37 hours per week, at National Minimum Wage, then ask them to work for a few extra hours - this would mean that you were effectively paying them at less than NMW. This would be the case even if the student offered or insisted on staying late - bear in mind that the responsibility (and liability) lies with you for that person to be paid for the hours they have worked.

For information around maximum weekly working hours and the Working Time Directive which counts for students too visit here.

Recruiting: Pay & agreements