Pensions, Tax and National Insurance

This section contains information about pay, tax and the UK National Insurance and pensions systems.


The state pension is a regular payment people can claim when they get to state pension age, subject to eligibility criteria. It’s worth understanding how you build up state pension and how much income it will give you later in life, if you plan on remaining in the UK beyond state pension age. Individuals may also take out a pension with their employer in addition to the state pension which is known as a workplace or occupational pension.

Legislation requires the University to automatically enrol eligible employees into a pension scheme. Eligibility for auto enrolment is determined by age and earnings. Even if you do not meet the criteria for auto enrolment, you can still opt into membership.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for auto enrolment you can opt out of it and details of how to do so if provided with your contractual paperwork or details can be found at payroll and pensions.

Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is the main occupational pension scheme for employees.

NEST is the default scheme for casual workers.

Further information on occupational pension schemes can be found on the payroll and pensions webpage.

UK Tax

In the UK your pay is subject to two compulsory taxes – income tax and national insurance contributions.

All workers in the UK must pay income tax on earnings above the personal allowance (income you may have before you pay tax). Tax on your earnings as a Keele employee will be deduct via PAYE (pay as you earn). PAYE is the system which enables Keele as your employer to deduce income tax and national insurance contributions (see next section) from your monthly earnings.

Your tax code (can be found on your payslip) informs Keele as to the correct amount of tax to deduct. Information on how to understand and check your tax code is available online.

If you have income and capital gains from one country and are resident in another, you may have to pay tax in both countries under their different tax laws; this is known as double taxation. To help avoid being taxed twice the UK has negotiated double taxation agreements with many countries (a list of countries with a double taxation agreement with the UK can be found on the HMRC website).

You will need to pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs) whilst you work for Keele University (subject to earnings). NICs are collected by HM Revenue & Customs through the Payroll system and go towards benefits, such as the National Health Service (NHS), the state pension and other government benefits.

The amount you pay depends upon earnings.  You will need your NI number to ensure that the correct contributions are deducted and so that HMRC can record your income tax payments and national insurance contributions against your record.

You may have a NI number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP). If you have one on your BRP, or you already have a NI number, you don’t need to apply for a new one.

If you don’t have a NI number, you may be required to contribute more than normal until you receive one. It is advisable to get one as soon as you arrive in the UK. Applications cannot be made outside of the UK. To apply please contact the NI application line on 0345 600 0643, open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Jobcentre Plus may write to you to ask you to attend an interview where you’ll be asked about your circumstances and why you need a NI number. You will have to take proof of identity to the appointment. The letter of invitation will tell you which documents to take.

Once you are in receipt of your NI number please make arrangements to bring a copy to Human Resources.