Guide

Pay: employer obligations

Issuing pay statements to employees

As an employer you are legally obliged to give each employee a written itemised pay statement, usually known as a payslip or wage slip. You must issue it at, or before, the time you pay your employee.

This right to receive an itemised pay statement does not apply to:

  • people you pay who are not employees, eg freelancers and contractors.
  • certain other groups, including police and some people who work at sea

Pay statement: what you must include

An itemised pay statement must show:

  • gross wages or salary before deductions
  • any fixed deductions - and the reasons for taking them - or the total figure for fixed deductions when you have provided a separate standing statement of the details
  • any variable deductions - and the reasons for taking them
  • net wages or salary payable after deductions
  • a breakdown of each part-payment - such as part by cheque, part in cash

Standing statements of fixed deductions

A pay statement does not have to include the amount and purpose of every separate fixed deduction every time.

However, if you don't issue a payslip that does this, you must give the employee a standing written statement of fixed deductions at least once every 12 months.

This must state for each item deducted:

  • the amount
  • the intervals at which the deduction is made
  • the purpose or description, eg trade union subscription

You must give the employee this statement at, or before, the time of issuing any pay statement which quotes the total figure of fixed deductions.

Variations in fixed deductions

If there is any change to an employee's fixed deductions, you must give them either:

  • notification in writing of the details of the change
  • an amended standing statement of fixed deductions, which is then valid for up to 12 months

If a dispute occurs in the workplace between you and your employee, you may wish to seek advice and assistance from the Labour Relations Agency (LRA). The LRA may be able to help with resolving disputes before they escalate into a tribunal claim.

Tribunal claims in relation to pay statements

An employee may complain to an industrial tribunal where you have:

  • Failed to give them any kind of pay statement.
  • Not included all the required details in an itemised pay statement or standing statement of fixed deductions. As an employer, you can also apply to a tribunal for a decision on what should be included in a pay statement or standing statement.
  • Dismissed them for seeking to enforce a right in relation to a pay statement. This right applies regardless of the employee's length of service.

Employees must make their complaint while employed by you or within three months of leaving your employment.

An industrial tribunal cannot deal with a question that is only about the accuracy of an amount in a statement.

Compensation for claims in relation to pay statements

A tribunal may award an employee compensation at its discretion if it finds that you made un-notified deductions of pay, ie deductions that did not appear on a pay statement or a standing statement.

The discretionary amount awarded will not exceed the total of the un-notified deductions during the 13 weeks immediately before the date the employee made their application to the tribunal.

All un-notified deductions enter into this calculation, whether or not they were made in breach of a contract of employment.

The LRA provides an alternative to the Industrial Tribunal under the Labour Relations Agency Arbitration Scheme. Under the Scheme claimants and respondents can choose to refer a claim to an arbitrator to decide instead of going to a tribunal. The arbitrator’s decision is binding as a matter of law and has the same effect as a tribunal. 

LRA Arbitration Scheme guidance.