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Teaching Assistants' Frequently Asked Questions

Below are questions People & OD often receive from our Teaching Assistants, with answers and where to go for more information.  If you have questions about hiring or paying a TA, please see our TA Administrators FAQs instead.

Working as a TA FAQs

How do I apply to be a TA?

TA jobs are rarely advertised on the University's main job page (www.jobs.manchester.ac.uk) but you may wish to sign up for an alert.  

For information on applying for TA roles in the Faculty of Humanities see their webpage: https://www.staffnet.manchester.ac.uk/humanities/teaching-support/ta-hub/application-process/

How do I confirm my right to work to HR?

A right to work check consists of a member of University staff viewing your right to work documentation, and seeing you.  It can be checked by HR Services, or by trained staff in your Faculty who will pass the information to HR.

Up to 5 April 2022, the government has agreed this can all be done electronically.  From 6th April 2022, if your right to work document is a physical document (see below), we need to receive the original documents, and we would recommend therefore that you attend an appointment in person rather than risking losing such important information (such as your passport) in the post.

  • For EU workers with settled or pre-settled status, or anyone on a Skilled Worker Visa, your right to work document is held electronically within the UK Government’s database, and you can provide us access to it with a share code, and be seen via videolink to confirm your ID. 
  • However for UK and Irish citizens, and people on older visa types, you will only have physical documents (as your right to work is not documented the Government’s database).  Prior to 1 September, these can be scanned and sent electronically, but from 1 September 2021 we must see the original, hard-copy documents.  A list of acceptable documents is here.

The check must happen before you commence work on Day 1.  Contact people.teachingassistants@manchester.ac.uk if you would like to make an appointment with HR's Reception team to see your right to work documents, or speak with your TA Administrator about who can check your right to work locally.

How many hours do I need to work as a TA?

This will vary according to the module.  You should discuss fully with the person who is offering you the hours how many they expect you to work and when, and key dates such as marking deadlines, to make sure that you are happy you can deliver these around your studies and any visa restrictions you may have.  Ask whether attendance is required at any residential or similar sessions.  Keep an open dialogue and don't be afraid to raise concerns.

Note that if you are enrolled as a PGR student at the University, your Faculty may have a policy on the maximum hours they will assign you for teaching-related duties, in order to protect your study time.  The TA Administrators for your School will be able to advise you on this.

Your contract will guarantee a number of hours to be paid each week over a term; this is the minimum amount of work you are being offered and are agreeing to, although you and your manager may agree between you that more will be worked some weeks and less another (provided this does not conflict with visa restrictions).  Payment will still be paid monthly, in arrears, based on the weekly agreed hours. 

If you are offered and accept any additional hours above those in your contract, they will be paid after they have been approved within the School and communicated to HR, in the next available payroll. 

Can I work as a TA if I am in the UK on a student visa?

Most student visas allow the holder to work, but with a limit on how many hours can be worked each week.   If you are restricted from working this will be detailed on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card that you were given by the UK Home Office. See our Visa pages for more information on what these restrictions mean and when you can work.  It is your personal responsibility to make sure you do not work outside of the restrictions, or your visa may be revoked.

Can I work as a TA if I am in the UK on a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Visa?

If you are employed under a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa, you are not eligible to work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, as the salary and skill level do not meet Home Office criteria associated with your visa.

Can I work remotely as a Teaching Assistant?

There may be opportunities for some or all of your work to be delivered remotely, but this will depend on the requirements of the course you are supporting.  Speak to the person offering you work to find out more.

Please note that if you are allowed to work remotely, you must not do so outside the UK.

How is my annual leave entitlement calculated?

The paid leave entitlement amounts to 33 days holiday plus eight bank holidays prorata per year, the leave year being the period from 1 October to 30 September.  Leave is accrued at the rate of one hour for every 5.35 hours worked. All leave will be taken at the end of the semester in which it is accrued.

Any additional hours worked on top of your planned and agreed hours in your contracts, will also accrue leave; these must be reported to HR on a monthly teaching assistant adjustment hours timesheet by your Teaching Assistant Administrator.

Pro rata allowances for special leave will apply based on a full-time allowance of one week a year.  For these purposes a full-time working week will be regarded as 35 hours.  You may sometimes be required in exceptional circumstances to work on the statutory Bank Holidays (other than those at Christmas, New Year and Easter), in which case you will be given reasonable notice and time off in lieu.

What are the sickness absence provisions for TAs?

Under the University’s local agreement with the University and College Union (UCU) on the terms and conditions governing the employment of Teaching Assistants (TAs), the sick pay provisions are as follows: 

  1. If a TA is absent from work due to sickness or injury, no payment will be made unless the TA qualifies for statutory sick pay.   
  1. In the event of short-term absence due to illness, TAs should attempt to arrange for a suitably qualified colleague to undertake their teaching on an exchange or swap basis, subject to obtaining verbal approval of their discipline head, in order that contractual hours of work can still be fulfilled and, in these circumstances, the absence will not be treated as a period of sickness absence.

However, in response to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, these arrangements were changed temporarily in the 2020/21 academic year; these arrangements remain in place until the end of Semester 1 in the 2021/22 academic year.  This means that during this period, if a TA is scheduled and contracted to undertake in-person teaching, they will be entitled to receive sick pay in the following circumstances:

  • If they had tested positive for COVID-19 and were unable to deliver scheduled teaching as a result;
  • If they were self-isolating because: (i) they had COVID-19 symptoms, (ii) they were waiting for a COVID-19 test result, and it was not appropriate or possible to move the scheduled class online.

TAs will continue to be eligible for sick pay where they are too unwell to deliver scheduled online teaching after testing positive for COVID-19 or while waiting for test results.  

I'm concerned about the work I'm being asked to do, or the amount. Who should I speak to?

In the first instance you should speak with the teaching staff you are working for and who is giving you the work.  You can also raise concerns with the TA Administrators for your School.

I have concerns about the behaviour of a member of staff or a student, can I report them confidentially?

If you have concerns about a colleague or staff member, that you don't feel able to address with the individual directly, you can speak with the HR Partner for your School, or alternately if you want to report behaviour you have witnessed anonymously, you can use the Report and Support tool to do so.

Understanding your TA Pay FAQs

When will I receive my pay?

TAs are paid on the penultimate working day of the month.  You can view the full list of paydates here.  TAs are paid via the 'end-month' payroll.

How will my defined hours in my contract be paid? When will any additional hours I accept be paid?

Your agreed hours in your appointment email will be split equally between the payrolls that fall in the time period you are engaged; i.e. Semester 1, Semester 2, or specific start and end dates in the email.  Any additional hours will be paid in the next available payroll after the School submits these to HR, subject to the relevant payroll deadlines.  Please see this explainer for full details.

When will I receive my payslip?

You can view your payslip online via the MyView portal.  It will appear a day or two before payday, which for TAs is the penultimate working day of the month.  You can view the full list of paydates here.  TAs are paid via the 'end-month' payroll.

What is USS on my payslip? Why has this deduction been taken from my pay?

USS is the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the pensions scheme for which Teaching Assistants are eligible.

Staff at the University are automatically enrolled in a relevant pension scheme when they join the University, and periodically re-enrolled if they have opted out of the scheme, in line with government rules.  Please see the Pensions FAQs for more information.

Why have I been charged Income Tax when my earnings for the year have not reached the Personal Annual Allowance?

The University is required to deduct tax monthly from all employees.  The amount deducted is based on the employee's tax code, which is provided by HMRC, the UK Government's Revenues and Customs Department.  The tax code tells us what each individual's tax-free personal allowance is for the year.  However this amount is divided into monthly installments, and any earnings above that monthly amount in a given month will be taxed.  This is a HMRC requirement and not the employer's decision.  At the end of the year, if your earnings have not exceeded your total annual personal allowance, or you have paid too much tax, you are able to be refunded by HMRC.   

How do I check my Tax Code is correct?

You can view your tax code on your online payslip via MyView.  Your tax code appears in the third row of the header.  Your code is provided to us by HMRC; if it ever changes on your payslip, this is due to HMRC providing us with a new code for you.  We cannot change it.

If you think that your tax code is not correct, you need to discuss this directly with HMRC via your local tax office, as they will not discuss your case with payroll.  When you ring them, you will need your payroll reference (your employee ID) which is on the top row of your payslip, and the University's tax office reference, which is on the second row of your payslip.

I've paid too much National Insurance because of being paid arrears of pay, can I have a refund?

Unfortunately, National Insurance (NI) deductions cannot be refunded by us.  We are required to calculate them based on how much was paid, when payment was made (rather than when the work was undertaken).  It is crucial therefore that your School approves and informs HR in a timely way, taking account of payroll deadlines, of any additional payments to be made within a given month.  If arrears are allowed to build you will be liable to pay more NI. 

 

If you believe you have genuinely overpaid NI, for a reason other than the above, you should contact HMRC to see if they will give you a refund. 

Why do I pay UK tax and NI if I am not a UK national and will be returning overseas after my studies?

The University as an employer is required to deduct tax and NI from all staff unless their tax code tells us otherwise.  If you are leaving the UK permanently you should inform HMRC who will work out if you are entitled to a refund of tax.

Why haven't I been paid?

If you haven't received any payment at all, this is usually because:

  • Your School hasn't told People & Organisational Development (P&OD) about you working for them - have you had a letter of appointment from P&OD?  If not, speak to your School TA Administrator.
  • You haven't given us your bank details - have you completed and returned the confirmation of appointment form that was linked to your letter of appointment?
  • You have given us incorrect bank details - log onto the MyView portal where you can see the bank account that you provided on the form, is this correct?  Have you checked the right bank account?  If the details look wrong contact the Payroll team urgently for advice.
  • This is your first job at the University, and P&OD have not yet received proof of your right to work - have you submitted your documents and made an appointment to have these checked by video or in person? Contact P&OD if not.
  • All of the above has been done, but not in time for the most recent payroll deadline.  You will be paid the following month.

 

I think I have been underpaid

If you think you have been underpaid, firstly you should check your payslip on MyView.

Check the payments that have been made to you (see the left-hand column of your payslip).  An amount showing in negative in this column will be a deduction in return for a benefit, such as a payment to your pension scheme or for childcare vouchers, or season ticket loans for travel.  The total amount payroll have been instructed to pay you, before tax, is at the bottom of the column as 'Total Payment' (this is also known as Gross Pay).  If the amount to be paid to you is not as you were expecting, you should speak to your local TA Admin to discuss whether the hours you have worked have been supplied to HR are correct and were supplied in time for the payroll deadline. 

  • Your contract will have guaranteed a number of hours to be paid each week over a term; you and your manager may agree between you that more will be worked some weeks and less another, but payment will still be paid monthly, in arrears, based on the weekly hours in your contract. 
  • If you are offered and accept any additional hours above those in your contract, they will be paid after they have been approved within the School and communicated to HR, in the next available payroll. 

If your hours to be paid look correct, next check the deductions that have been made from your pay (see the right-hand column of your payslip), for example, tax, national insurance, student loans or court-ordered deductions.  These may account for a difference in your pay to what you were expecting.  See the FAQs above on Tax, NI and tax codes for more information if you think these amounts are incorrect. 

Your gross pay, minus deductions of tax etc, is your Net Payment i.e. the amount that goes into your bank.  If the unlikley event the amount that has gone into your bank does not match this amount contact the Payroll team.

Note that the amounts shown in the cumulative columns on your payslip show the totals paid and deducted to date from the start of the tax year (April of each year) and are for your reference only.  

I've been overpaid, what should I do?

You should notify People & Organisational Development (P&OD) at people.teachingassistants@manchester.ac.uk as soon as possible so we can confirm that you have been correctly paid.  If you have been paid too much, this will be deducted from your future payments.  If no further payments are due, you will be contacted by the Finance team to provide you with information on how to repay.