Glossary of employment terms!

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When you start job hunting and entering the world of employment, it can be very confusing with all of these new words and phrases being thrown at you that you might not have heard before!


To make it a bit easier, we have made this glossary to explain what they mean and what they are referring to.


Ad-hoc – Ad-hoc means work that is available as and when it is only needed.


Application form – Some companies ask you to fill out an application form for a job instead of creating a CV and covering letter.


Biometric card – If you are on a visa, you will have a biometric card. This is a card that states who you are, and the hours you are allowed to work.


Contract – When you start work, there is a contract between you and your employer, laying out both yours and their responsibilities.


Covering Letter – A covering letter accompanies your CV, and is your chance to explain why you want and are interested in the job, and why the information on your CV makes you a suitable candidate for the job.


CV – CV stands for curriculum vitae, and is a document created by you to detail your previous employment, work experience, and any other hobbies or skills you think are relevant.


Emergency tax – Emergency tax is what the tax office will put you on if they are unsure of your circumstances. For example, if you have two jobs, you must split your tax code on the money you earn in each job, or the tax office might think you are earning more money than you actually are. Another example is if you do not have a National Insurance Number, you must apply for one, or they may put you on emergency tax because they don’t know who you are. This is to prevent people who are eligible to pay tax from not paying tax and not contributing to society.


Feedback – After a job interview, you may be offered feedback if you don’t get the job you applied for! This could help you improve and work on your technique for the next interview. Not all organisations will offer feedback, but it is possible to ask for some. Even so, they are still not obliged to give feedback.


Full-time work – This is work that exceeds 35 hours per week.


GDPR – GDPR refers to General Data Protection Regulation, and is a series of laws designed to protect your privacy and the spread of your personal data. Have you ever had emails from companies that you have never contacted arrive in your inbox? GDPR was brought in to protect you from that. In terms of job hunting, CVs may have personal data on that someone could steal and use to contact you without your consent, which is why it’s important to be careful when seeking employment. Companies must comply with GDPR law and have their own policies and procedures in place.


Job description – A job description will explain all of your responsibilities that you must carry out in your job.


Interview – Before you are offered a job, most places would like to interview you so they can get to know you and see if you would be a good fit for the company. Interviews can be informal or formal.


Living wage – Living wage is the minimum amount of money you need to earn per hour to make living in your area affordable.


Minimum wage – Minimum wage is the legal minimum set by the government of how much money a company pays you per hour. It is also dependent on your age. If you are being paid less than the minimum wage, it is illegal.


National Insurance Number – All adults of working age in the UK must have a National Insurance Number to prove they have the right to work. It is a legal requirement. It is sent to British citizens when they turn 16 in the post automatically and stays the same throughout your life, regardless of whether you get married or change your name. If you are from overseas, you will have to apply for one. We have a blog post about the process HERE.


P45 – When you finish a job, you are issued a P45, which is a document that states how long you worked there and that your contract is now completed. You may need your P45 for finding another job.


P60 – A P60 is a document that you receive will while you are employed during April, which is the end of the tax year, to say how much money you have earned, and how much tax you have paid.


Part-time work – This is work that is usually less than 35 hours per week.


Payslip – A payslip will give you a full breakdown of how much money you have earned, what tax you may have paid, what you may have contributed to a pension scheme, and how much money will be going into your bank account. Regardless of where you work, it is important that you CHECK THEM REGULARLY.


Recruitment agency – Some companies will hire another company to do their job searching for them. These are called recruitment agencies. Recruitment agencies will look at your CV, and if they think you are suitable for the roles they have available, will interview you, and check that you have the legal right to work. They will then match you with a job role if available. If the company likes you, they might interview you, and you might get the job!


Right to Work – Before you may work, you have to prove that you have the legal right to work in the UK. Many companies will carry out Right to Work checks before you can start. This usually involves showing your original passport to prove that you are a citizen of the UK or the EU, and that you are who you say you are. If you are on a visa, it involves showing more documents, such as your biometric card, to show what hours you are entitled to work.


Tax – Adults earning money through work must pay tax. Tax is used to pay for running schools, the NHS, public transport, and much more. Part-time student workers are unlikely to meet the threshold to be eligible to pay tax and may be exempt from paying tax.


Tax office – if you have any problems with your tax, you must contact your local tax office. They will be able to further assist. Your employer isn’t responsible for sorting out your tax, you are!


Tax rebate – if you have paid too much tax, then you are eligible for a tax rebate. This means the tax office will return the excess money they have taken to you.


Telephone interview – If you and a recruitment team are in two far apart locations, they might interview you over the telephone.


Temporary work – Temporary is work that only lasts for a limited duration of time. It is not a permanent contract. It can often be to cover sickness, or a one-off event, or for extra support during a busy time such as Christmas.


Tier 4 visa – If you are a student from overseas, from a country that is not part of the EU, you will most likely have a Tier 4 visa! You are allowed to work, however you are only allowed to work a limited amount of hours per week and must not exceed them. Exceeding your hours could lead to dismissal from your role, expulsion from the university, your visa being revoked, and deportation to your country of origin.


Status Letter – if you are here on a visa, you may need to produce a Status Letter to confirm that you are a student and studying at the university, what course you are undertaking, and how long you will be studying for. Status Letters can be obtained from the Registry and usually take 48 hours to produce. You will need to get a new one every academic year, and they can be used for opening a UK bank account. We recommend getting one before you start looking for work or go to open a bank account so that you don’t have to waste time.


Zero Hour Contracts – some companies will offer you a zero hour contract, which means there is no set amount of hours for you to work per week. Zero hour contracts can be good for students who move from home to university throughout the year and need flexibility when they are available to work.


Still confused? Or think we might have missed something? Why not drop us an email at and we can help?


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