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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 23+)Link opens in a new window

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?
  • opens in a new window – 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 Gov.ukLink opens in a new window for more information
  • If you wish to run payroll externally, you can use a temp agency, for example the University's own agency, UnitempsLink opens in a new window, to do this for you


You need to pay for any expenses incurred by the intern or placement student 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 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

By the first day of employment, we would always recommend creating and signing a Letter of Agreement, no matter how brief, that sets out: the employer's name, the employee’s name, job title, duties and responsibilities, pay, hours, working pattern, place of work, duration, start date and end date, paid weekly/monthly, holiday entitlement, benefits, pension schemes, sick pay and procedures, obligatory training and whether or not this is paid for by the employer, any probationary, notice period and disciplinary procedures, any terms relating to your intellectual property and confidentiality policies and any collective agreements.

This is to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the nature of the internship or placement from the start and helps to professionalise the situation, as you mean to go on.

For further information on employment contracts please refer to

Supporting disabled students

Reasonable adjustments may need to be organised for a disabled student in accessing facilities, training and/or performing in the internship or placement. Support may be available from Access to WorkLink opens in a new window.

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 hereLink opens in a new window.

Recruiting: Pay & agreements