Payslips are given on or before the day someone gets paid. They show:

  • how much pay they're getting for a certain time period
  • 'deductions'  – this is what has been taken from their pay, for example tax and National Insurance (NI)

The payslip can be:

  • given as a paper document
  • sent as an email attachment
  • in an online system

If an employee is unable to access their payslips online, their employer should provide them in a different format, for example paper copies. 

Payslips can also be called 'wage slips' and 'itemised pay statements'.

An employer must keep a record of any hours worked or payments made in the last 6 years. An employee, worker or the National Minimum Wage enforcement agency can ask them for these if they believe the employer is not paying minimum wage.

Who has the right to a payslip

By law (Employment Rights Act 1996), employers must give all their employees and workers payslips from their first payday.

Workers can include people on zero-hours contracts and agency workers.

Agency workers get their payslips from their agency.

People who are self-employed do not get payslips. This is because they are responsible for paying their tax and other deductions themselves.

However, if they get employed through an agency, they could become an employee or worker. If that happens the agency must give them payslips for the duration of the job.

Other types of work where people are not entitled to a payslip by law are:

  • the armed forces
  • police
  • merchant seamen and women
  • where they get paid by a share in the profits or gross earnings of a fishing vessel

However, these groups often receive payslips through other arrangements.

What must be in a payslip

A payslip must include:

  • the 'gross amount' – this is the total pay before deductions
  • the 'net amount' – this is the total pay after deductions
  • any variable deductions – this is where the amounts depend on the amount of pay, for example tax, National Insurance, student loan repayments and pension contributions
  • a breakdown of how the wages will be paid if more than one payment method is used – for example bank transfer and cash
  • the amounts of any fixed deductions – for example trade union subscriptions

Fixed deductions can be given in a separate statement, known as a 'standing statement of fixed deductions'. It should include:

  • what the deduction is for
  • how much it is
  • how often it's paid

If the standing statement is separate from the main payslip, it's only valid for 12 months. It must be reissued every year, or earlier if the fixed deductions change. 

The payslip might also have the:

  • time period the pay covers
  • tax code of the employee or worker

If someone's wages are different between pay periods

If someone's hours often change from one pay period to the next, they might be employed on a 'variable hours' contract. This might be if:

  • they worked overtime
  • the number of hours they work changes in each pay period

The total number of hours payable in each pay period must be set out in the payslip. This includes:

  • the total number of hours worked
  • separate amounts for different work or work paid at a different rate
  • any payments related to a previous pay period – for example, if overtime is paid in arrears
  • any deductions from pay and wages – showing what each deduction is for and the amount

The total number of hours worked can be shown as a single total when the type of work or the pay rate stays the same. 

If someone gets a different rate of pay, for example for working overtime or unsociable hours, the hours must be broken down in the payslip. This should be set out so that it's easy to understand at a glance. 

For example, Sam usually works 20 hours in a pay period but also works 4 hours' overtime. The 20 hours at the basic rate must be recorded as one entry. The extra 4 hours at the higher overtime rate must be recorded separately.

Other circumstances when someone's wages vary from one pay period to the next include if:

  • there's a change in the National Minimum Wage
  • they're promoted
  • they get paid a bonus
  • they go on strike
  • they're off sick – unless they are entitled to full contractual sick pay
  • they're laid off or put on short-time working due to a downturn in business

Problems with payslips

It's good practice for employers to make sure staff get their payslips before payday. This means that if there are any delays or errors, there's time to sort them out.

If a payslip is not correct

If an employee or worker thinks there's an error in their payslip, they should speak to their manager, payroll team or employer as soon as possible. It's usually best to raise the problem informally by talking to their employer.

If they've already tried to resolve things informally, they can raise a grievance. This is where they make a formal complaint to their employer.

Find out more about deductions from pay and wages

If someone does not get a payslip

If an employee or worker does not get their payslip when expected, they should check with their manager, payroll team or employer as soon as possible.

If they've tried to resolve things informally, they can raise a grievance. This is where they make a formal complaint to their employer.

If the employee or worker still does not get a payslip, they can make a claim to an employment tribunal.

Contact the Acas helpline

If you have any questions about payslips, you can contact the Acas helpline.

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