Advice and Representation

Seek advice and representation. Trade unions work to improve employment conditions for their members and will represent you in a dispute. 

In the UK, there are hundreds of employment laws and policies that safeguard the rights of employers and employees.

These laws include the employee’s entitlement to a minimum wage, statutory leave, parental leave and sick pay. The UK also has policies that protect other employee’s rights. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Discrimination
  • Unfair dismissal
  • People from overseas working in the UK

If you encounter problems during your employment, you may need to seek advice and representation from an independent service.

This webpage contains our guidance on who to contact for advice and representation if you feel that you have been unfairly treated in the workplace. If this applies to you and you have further questions about who you should go to for support, please let us know using the webform at the bottom of this page.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Fairness in the workplace is a vital part of employment. In a fair minded organisation:

  • Employers promote a culture that recognises diversity, addresses equality and tackles discrimination.
  • Employees feel safe and valued at work, and employers recognise and support their wider wellbeing.
  • Terms and conditions and pay levels are transparent, comply with the law and reward employees fairly.

Fairness in the workplace is supported in law by the Equality Act 2010. The aim of the Equality Act is to improve equal job opportunities and fairness for employees and job applicants. All employers should have policies in place to prevent discrimination. Under the Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work because of nine areas termed in the legislation as ‘protected characteristics’ these are:

If you feel that you have been discriminated against in the workplace and it having an effect on your recruitment, pay, job prospects, progression, personal development or statutory rights, or effecting your work in other ways, you may want to make a claim at an employment tribunal. This process is outlined on the website.


International Students

If you are an international student and you have a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, you can usually work part-time during your studies. The wording on your visa, either on the Entry Clearance sticker in your passport or in the “Remarks” section on your Biometric Permit will state your work conditions. You must check carefully before committing to any paid work.

You may be eligible to work in the UK if your visa states that you can. Look out for one of the following statements which usually indicate that you are eligible to work:

  • Work (and any changes) must be authorised
  • Able to work as authorised by the Secretary of State
  • Work as in Tier 4 Rules
  • Restricted Work. P/T term time. F/T vacations
  • Restricted work term time
  • Work limited to max 20 hrs per week during term-time
  • Work limited to max 10 hrs per week during term-time

You cannot work if your visa has one of these statements:

  • No work
  • Work prohibited

Depending on the wording of your Visa, you must not work more than 10 or 20 hours per week during term time. You should be able to find the official term dates on the Cardiff University Intranet.

If you work beyond your permitted hours, you may be subject to a range of consequences. The most severe of which could include dismissal from University and deportation from the UK. The University could also incur a significant fine.

As an international student, you should expect to be treated fairly within your organisation, have the right to join a Trade Union, and can access support from the services below if you face any employment challenges in your place of work.

Trade Unions

A trade union is an organisation with members who are usually workers. Trade Unions exist to maintain and improvement employment conditions by representing the interests and needs of its individuals. 

Everyone has the right to join a trade union and cannot be discriminated against for joining one. Unlike a students’ union where you are automatically a member, you have to pay to join a trade union, but don’t let that put you off. All trade unions offer reduced rates for young workers and students, so it can cost you as little as £1 a month. Find the right trade union for you based upon the industry you work in or your job role.

Some benefits of joining a trade union include:

  • Access to representation during any disputes or negotiations with your employer on matters such as pay, health and safety, hours of work and disciplinary proceedings.
  • Training and development opportunities.
  • Providing assistance and services to their members such as CV writing and legal and financial advice
  • Exclusive member discounts on a range of products.
  • Being able to be part of a network of young members and get involved in campaigns and social events



Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice is a free service which provides information and advice on a wide range of topics and issues including work-related matters. You can find out more about how to solve some employment matters using the guidance they have on their website

If you need more specific advice to manage any work-place challenges that you are facing, you can contact them on 03444 77 20 20.


ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, a Crown non-departmental public body of the Government by the UK. ACAS provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. 

You can contact that ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Student Advice 

Student Advice may also be able to advise on your issue. Please let us know if you are facing a work place problem using the webform below.