• The Midgie
  • 1 October 2008

There are a wide variety of jobs that can be done part-time or on a temporary basis if you’re travelling on a Tier 5 visa or are a national of an EEA country or Switzerland. Permanent positions can be arranged but you will need to check your visa status (see visas page). It may seem tempting to take a ‘cash-in-hand’ job on a temporary basis but this is illegal and you will not be protected by any of the working laws that apply in the UK.

Before applying for a job it’s worth finding out whether the conditions and working environment are going to suit you. The advantages of temporary jobs are that they are flexible; the main disadvantage is that conditions of work can be badly arranged. As far as possible make sure that holidays, shifts, pay and other important points are covered in a contract.

There’s a whole raft of UK and European employment legislation that covers important issues such as minimum wage, discrimination and rest breaks. However, the rights
of temporary versus permanent workers do vary. As an agency worker or short-term casual worker you are officially classed as a worker rather than an employee. This means that you are covered by the National Minimum Wage, working time legislation (rest breaks, paid holidays and a limit on night work) social security and health and safety provisions. Just as you have the flexibility to take up and leave temporary jobs at short notice, employers also have the flexibility to end your temporary employment without being liable for unfair dismissal or redundancy pay.

If you’re not keen on tramping the streets in search of willing employers, you can always try temping agencies, organisations that can provide you with temporary, part-time or
permanent work. Some agencies will specialise in certain industries, for example cleaning, catering or office work. Most do not charge you a fee – they take a cut from employers. How long they take to find you a job will vary, especially if you’re picky about what you want. You will need to show the agency a CV, passport, references, working visa, NI number (if you’re in the middle of organising one it shouldn’t count against you) and bank details if you have them. Be aware that you can join more than one agency.


1) The minimum wage in Britain is £5.73 an hour if you’re over 22. Although there has been some unpleasantness over whether café workers can be paid less, and then given tips to ‘top up’ their wages to minimum wage level, employers should be banned from doing this as of next year.

2) If you earn over £105 a week you’ll need to hand over your national insurance number to your employer. By paying national insurance you’ll build up your entitlement to a pension and healthcare from the NHS. If you don’t already have a NI number, you will need to telephone the Jobcentre helpline on 0845 600 0643.They will make sure you are given a number and will arrange for you to undertake an evidence of identity interview.You pay 11% of your earnings as Class 1 National Insurance contributions (at least for the tax year 2008-2009). Below this earnings threshold you should be exempt.


All employees in the UK must be paid a certain amount for every hour they work. Minimum wages advance on a yearly basis and these figures are correct from 1 Oct. f you are 22 years old or over, you must earn £5.73 or more. If you are aged between 18 and 21, you must be paid at least £4.77 an hour. All workers under the age of 18 but older than the school leaving age (which is regarded as the end of summer term of the school year in which you turn 16) must be paid £3.53 an hour. There is no minimum wage for children under the school leaving age.


If you are enterprising and resilient, you can always try your hand at various freelance jobs. The most obvious of these, if you come from a non-English speaking country, is to teach your native language on a one-to-one basis. Some languages are considered sexier than others, so although only a few Brits will want to learn Icelandic, quite a few aspire to a smattering of Spanish and a dream home on the Costa del Sol. You can choose to teach conversation or, if you’re a gifted teacher, offer structured language courses.

Your classroom can be anything from your home (although you should check out your pupil first) to a quiet café or piece of parkland. If you don’t have any teaching experience, you can offer unpaid conversation exchange (via a site like until you get the hang of things. You can advertise your services in cafes, shops, newspapers or online. Word of mouth will also prove important. Top tutors can charge £25 an hour, but you’ll be looking at £15 if you are fairly inexperienced. This is way over minimum wage, but remember that it includes preparation time. Most tutors tend to have a part-time job and tutor on the side, at least until they build up their business.


‘I came to Scotland in October 2004 to find a job and improve my English. Three weeks later I started working in GAP. Whilst I was working there a girl asked me to give conversation lessons to a friend of hers (I began to realise that Spanish was quite fashionable, and I really enjoyed teaching Spanish, as opposed to teaching philosophy, which was my degree subject). I taught this girl for nearly a year before putting up some advertisements. I then started to teach a Polish girl.

It was at this point that I began researching courses that would enable me to teach Spanish as a foreign language. In July 2007 I spent a month in Madrid doing an intensive course (I would say that it is the equivalent to CELTA or TEFL). I also decided to study for an online post-graduate course with the University of Barcelona because this will improve my chances of getting a ‘proper job’ teaching Spanish. I started studying in November 2007 and will finish in December 2008.

During 2007 I worked at a bookshop in Edinburgh and gave private lessons to a few people. In February 2008 I got a job as a Spanish teacher in a company, teaching twice a week. I updated my CV and gave it to the Spanish departments in several Scottish universities. By the summer of 2008 I was lucky enough to have a job as a lecturer for five to six hours per week. I now take overall conversation lessons.’

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