Frequently asked questions

Click on 'Search FAQs', start typing a word and all the relevant FAQs will be listed. 
Alternatively, you can read through the FAQs within the relevant categories. 



1. How do I use this website?

1.1 How does the Staffing Portal work?

Welcome to the Staffing Portal! This is where you a) apply for a seasonal role on the NCS programmes, b) book onto events such as group assessments and role training sessions, c) indicate your availability for the NCS programmes, and d) receive information on your work placements and sign your employment contract.

Once you're logged in, you'll see that the home page is split into three 'stages'; Application, Placement & Programme. First, you need to fill out the 'Application stage' - complete your profile, submit your application, and once your application's been reviewed, book onto an assessment.

Following a successful assessment you'll be conditionally offered a role - then the 'Placement stage' will be available. Here, you fill out your 'essential information', apply for a DBS, book onto role training and outline your availability on the 'choosing when I can work' and 'Dates when I can't work' pages.

Finally, once you've been allocated to a work placement or 'wave', the 'Programme stage' opens. On the 'My Role' page, you'll be able to view your timetable, download helpful resources and sign your employment contract.

You'll notice that there are icons next to each page:

- Blue tick: you have completed all of this section
- Green cog: this section is incomplete
- Red cross: there's a problem with this section which you need to review immediately.

1.2 Why can't I access some parts of the website?

To ensure that we only collect information from candidates if and when we need it, we 'lock' various sections of the Staffing Portal. This means you'll only have access to the pages that you currently need for your role.

We'll also lock some sections while we process your information; for instance, once you've submitted your application form, you'll be unable to go back and change anything while we're reviewing it. If you think you've submitted any incorrect information, it's best to contact your staffing team to see if they can amend this manually for you.

1.3 I'm having technical difficulties - what do I do?

Please submit a technical help query -

1.Click on the 'Help' button at the top of the page.

2. Please make sure you provide your full name and the phone number and email address you've signed up with in the form. In the 'summary' field, please try to be as concise as possible so that we can identify the problem quickly.

3. In the 'Details of your problem' field, please provide as much information as possible, including what page you're on, any error messages that come up and what measures you've taken so far. The more information we have, the quicker we can get back to you with a solution.

4. Press submit - we will try and respond to your query the next working day.

Please note that if a problem is not 'technical' (e.g. not due to a website fault) you should simply email

1.4 What is your data protection policy?

Data Protection Policy:


1.1 During the course of our activities we, The Challenge, will process personal data and sensitive personal data (which may be held on paper, electronically, or otherwise) about our seasonal staff, and we recognise the need to treat it in an appropriate and lawful manner, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The purpose of this policy is to make you aware of how we will handle personal and sensitive personal data.


2.1 For the purposes of this policy:

Employee/s means Seasonal  Staff.

Personal Data means recorded information we hold about Employees, Volunteers, Applicants and Participants from which an individual can be identified. It may include contact details, other personal information, photographs, expressions of opinion or indications as to The Challenge’s intentions about the individual.

Sensitive Data means personal data consisting of information about the data subject’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs or beliefs of a similar nature, trade union membership, physical or mental health or condition, sexual life, sickness records, interview notes, equal opportunities monitoring form, payroll information, pension scheme, criminal records check, DBS reports.

Processing means doing anything with the data, such as accessing, disclosing, destroying or using the data in any way.


3.1 We will comply with the eight data protection principles in the DPA, which say that Personal Data must be:

(a) Processed fairly and lawfully 

(b) Processed for limited purposes and in an appropriate way

(c) Adequate, relevant and not excessive for the purpose

(d) Accurate

(e) Not kept longer than necessary for the purpose

(f) Processed in line with individuals’ rights

(g) Secure

(h) Not transferred to people or organisations situated in other countries without adequate protection.


4.1 We will usually only process your personal data where you have given your consent or where the processing is necessary to comply  with our legal obligations. In other cases, processing may be necessary for the protection of your vital interests, for our legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of others.

4.2 We will only process ‘sensitive personal data’ about ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership, health, criminal proceedings or convictions, where a further condition is also met. Usually, this will mean that you have given your explicit consent, or that the processing is legally required for employment purposes. The full list of conditions is set out in the DPA.


5.1 We will process data about seasonal staff for legal, personnel, administrative and management purposes and to enable us to meet our legal obligations as an employer, for example, to pay you. monitor your performance and ensure your safety when participating in adventurous activities with our partners.

5.2 We may process sensitive personal data relating to seasonal staff including, as appropriate:

(a) information about an employee’s physical or mental health or condition in order to make decisions as to the employee’s fitness for work (i.e. what activities you can and cannot participate in on the Personal Challenge);

(b) the employee’s racial or ethnic origin or religious or similar information in order to monitor compliance with equal opportunities legislation;

(c) in order to comply with legal requirements and obligations to third parties, such as our partners during the Personal Challenge.


6.1 We will only process your personal data for the specific purpose or purposes notified to you or for any other purposes specifically permitted by the DPA.


7.1 We will keep the personal data we store about you accurate and up to date. Data that is inaccurate or out of date will be destroyed. Please notify us if your personal details change or if you become aware of any inaccuracies in the personal data we hold about you.


8.1 We will not keep your personal data for longer than is necessary for the purpose. This means that data will be destroyed or erased from our systems when it is no longer required.


9.1 You have the right to:

(a) Request access to any personal data we hold about you

(b) Prevent the processing of your data for direct-marketing purposes

(c) Ask to have inaccurate data held about you amended

(d) Prevent processing that is likely to cause unwarranted substantial damage or distress to you or anyone else

(e) Object to any decision that significantly affects you being taken solely by a computer or other automated process.


10.1 We will ensure that appropriate measures are taken against unlawful or unauthorised processing of personal data, and against the accidental loss of, or damage to, personal data.

10.2 We have in place procedures and technologies to maintain the security of all personal data from the point of collection to the point of destruction. We will only transfer personal data to a third part if it agrees with those procedures and policies, or if it puts in place adequate measures itself.

10.3 Maintaining data security means guaranteeing the confidentiality, integrity and availability (for authorised purposes) of the personal data.


11.1 We will disclose your personal data to our partners who have extensive experience in providing adventurous activities. This is solely for your safety. We will not disclose your personal data to other third parties without your consent unless we are satisfied that they are legally entitled to the data. Where we do disclose your personal data to a third party, we will have regard to the eight data protection principles.


12.1 If you wish to know what personal data we hold about you, you must make the request in writing. All such requests should be forwarded to HR.


13.1 If you consider that this policy has not been followed in respect of personal data about yourself or others you should raise the matter with your manager. Any breach of this policy will be taken seriously.

2. The NCS seasonal programmes

2.1 What is NCS The Challenge?

The Challenge is the UK's leading social integration charity - find out more about us here [link to 'About Us' page]

We are the UK's largest provider of NCS (National Citizen Service). NCS is a seasonal youth and community programme designed to push 15-17 year olds out of their comfort zones and into adulthood through outdoor activities, skills development, community volunteering and social action. We believe that with the right tools, young people can make a real difference in their local communities.

Our seasonal programmes take place outside of term time in the summer (late June to late August) and autumn (October to November half term). Teams of young people take part in our three or four week programme, progressing through the following challenges:

NCS Personal Challenge: Teams come together, build confidence and bond through intense outdoor activities such as abseiling, rafting and hiking during a week away from home.

NCS Team Challenge: Young people return to their local community to stay in university halls. They learn a new skill (drama, enterprise, music, photography, media, art or sport) and use it to build relationships with members of the community.

NCS Real Challenge: Team identify an issue in their local community and design a social action project to tackle it. Once their design is finished, they pitch it to a panel of 'dragons' and take their campaign to the streets.

2.2 When is the NCS programme running this summer?

The table below outlines all of the different programmes dates running this summer (4 weeks each).

If you are looking to work in Birmingham, please note that we are running a 'condensed' version of the programme which runs over 3 weeks instead - please contact the Birmingham team on for more information!







22 - 26 June

29 June - 3 July

6 - 9 July

12 - 15 July


26 - 30 June

3 - 7 July

10 - 13 July

16 - 19 July


30 June - 4 July

7 - 11 July

14 - 17 July

20 - 23 July


4 - 8 July

11 - 15 July

18 - 21 July

24 - 27 July


13 - 17 July

20 - 24 July

26 - 29 July

1 - 4 August


17 - 21 July

24 - 28 July

31 July - 3 Aug

5 - 8 August


21 - 25 July

28 July - 1 Aug

4 - 7 August

10 - 13 August


25 - 29 July

1 - 5 August

8 - 11 August

14 - 17 August


29 July - 2 Aug

5 - 9 August

12 - 15 August

18 - 21 August


2 - 6 August

10 - 11 August

12 - 14 August

18 - 21 August


6 - 10 August

14 - 15 August

16 - 18 August

23, 24, 27 & 28 Aug


10 - 14 August

18 - 19 August

20, 21 & 23 Aug

27 - 30 August

2.3 What are The Challenge's values?

Our Values are available on the organisation website and are listed below.

Local – National
We maximise our local impact, supported by national influence, efficiencies and scale.

•    We use local knowledge to work with our local communities.
•    We seek opportunities to increase the number of people benefiting from our programmes.
•    We work collaboratively across the organisation to support our colleagues, maximise our efficiency and effectiveness.

Challenging – Humble
We strive for continuous improvement, with understanding and respect for all those we work with.

•    We develop by sharing feedback with colleagues and partners.
•    We look for improvements in what we do and how we do it.
•    We seek, understand and respect other people’s point of view.
•    We trust in each other to make the right decisions for The Challenge to support our mission.

Professional – Real
We are true to ourselves, and commit to always perform at our best.

•    We have high standards and take pride in all we do.
•    We learn from our mistakes.
•    We have a warm and approachable culture.

3. My Profile & My Application

3.1 I can't log in - help!

If you're experiencing problems logging in, please check the following:

- Are you using the correct email address? If you're not sure which email you registered with, contact us on
- Is your password correct? Use the 'Forgotten Password' button to retrieve your login details
- Do you have any old accounts on our system? If you've worked with us before, you just need to use your old login details.
- Have you been on the NCS programme as a young person? You'll need to create an account with a different email address (you're confusing our system!)

If you've checked all of the above and still can't login, please contact

3.2 I'm having trouble registering my details - what should I do?

If you're having trouble registering your details it's most likely because we already have a profile for you on our system:

a) I already signed up via your online form OR I attended a careers event and provided contact details: You can access your profile by entering your email address in the login page and clicking on 'Forgotten Password' - you'll be emailed a link to retrieve a temporary password, which you'll be prompted to change once you're logged in. If you're not sure what email address you've registered with, email us on

b) I've worked on the NCS programme previously and would like to return to work: You won't need to make a new account - just use the same email address and password as before. Once you're logged in you can update your profile and start a new application.

3.3 How do I change my password?

If you're already logged in to the staffing portal, you can change your password on the 'My Profile' page. If you're not logged in, you can change your password by clicking on 'Forgotten password' and clicking on the link in the triggered email.

The first time you log in to the staffing portal you'll be automatically taken to the 'change password' page.

3.4 I don't have a National Insurance (NI) number - what should I do?

If you don't have an NI number, you'll need to apply for one as soon as possible - we can't let you work on the NCS programme until you have one. In the meantime, you please contact Central Staffing on to continue your NCS application.

3.5 Where can I find role descriptions and start dates?

You can find job descriptions for all of our roles on at

If you scroll to the bottom of each job description, you'll find all of the potential work dates for the role you're looking at. These work dates will be broken down into 'waves' and sections (PC, TC, RCD, RCA) - you'll need to be available for a full row of dates.

Please note that some roles will not be available on all seasonal programmes, and start dates can vary based on location. For more information, contact us on

3.6 Can I apply for multiple roles and locations?

Yes! We encourage staff to apply for all roles that they think they're suitable for. If you are invited to an assessment, we take all seasonal roles into consideration. Following your assessment, the role we match you to is our final decision.

We also encourage applicants to select as many locations as possible - the more flexible you are, the more likely you'll be offered multiple work placements. Please note that you must be able to find your own accommodation in any area you select, and pay for your own travel to and from the start venue for your placement.

3.7 My application won't save - what do I do?

There are a few reasons why your application might not be saving:

a) You have not filled in all of the answer fields: questions marked with a blue (*) are compulsory and the application will not save or submit without them. Please go back and answer any questions you've left blank.

b) You're writing too much in your answer: all of our long written-answer questions have a limit of 1,000 characters - this is roughly 250 words (but it depends on the length of the words you're using!). Please go back and cut down your answers to meet these requirements.

c) Your broadband is slow: sometimes our 'conditional' questions (i.e. questions asking for further details following a 'yes' answer) have trouble loading if the user's internet is slow. This means that you won't have completed the whole form. If possible, please try to connect to a different broadband, and make sure you're using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If this is not possible, try accessing the application form during a non-peak time - generally broadband providers have the most activity in the evening.

d) A technical glitch has occurred: if an error message pops up when you try to save or submit your application, our website is experiencing a technical issue. Please submit a 'help' query, ideally with a printscreen of the error message.

3.8 I was previously on the NCS programme as a young person, and I'm now having trouble applying for a seasonal role.

If you're going to turn 18 before 1st April 2019 you'll be able to apply for a seasonal role with us. If you're not going to turn 18 by this date we won't be able to accept an application from you.

However, sometimes our system gets confused when you already have a 'young person' account with the same email address. The easiest way to get around this is to sign up with a different email address. If you are having issues, contact us on

3.9 I am under 18, can I apply for a paid seasonal role?

If you're going to turn 18 before 1st May 2019, you'll be able to apply for a seasonal role with us. If you're not going to turn 18 by this date we won't be able to accept an application from you.

Are you an NCS Graduate? Get in touch with the Grads team on to see what opportunities they have available.

3.10 I have additional needs and require reasonable adjustments - what can you do?

We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all candidates.

On the final page of the application form we encourage you to disclose details of your needs and any adjustments or assistance you might need at assessment and on the programme. Please complete this section as fully as possible.

If you require our application form in a different format (e.g. printed paper copy), or would like to discuss your needs with a member of our Inclusion Staffing team, please get in touch with our confidential inclusion helpline:

Any information you disclose will be treated confidentially, and will not affect how your application is reviewed. We'll only share this information on a need-to-know basis. 

4. Assessments

4.1 Do I need to attend an assessment?

New applicants: if you're applying to work on the NCS programme for the first time and your application is successful, you'll be invited to one of our group assessments. Our assessment format allows us to determine whether or not you are suitable to undertake any of our seasonal roles. Assessments are mandatory for all new candidates.

Returners (from 2018) applying for a different role: you may need to attend an assessment, depending on the role you're applying for or you may be asked to have a telephone assessment depending on your application. Your staffing team will indicate whether or not you'll need to reassess. 

Returners (from 2018) applying for the same role: you won't need to assess again but you may be asked to have a telephone assessment based on your application. 

Returners (pre 2018): you will need to assess for a role for 2019 - this is because many of our roles have changed in nature!

4.2 I am unable to attend an assessment in person. Can I have a Sykpe interview?

Unfortunately we can't carry out interviews over Skype. We assess candidates in groups for two reasons; a) it allows us to assess as many people as possible for our roles, and b) it allows us to use activities such as role plays, group discussions and presentations to get an idea of how you'll react in certain scenarios.

We strongly recommend that you make yourself available for one of the assessment dates offered, where possible. If you're definitely unable to attend any of our latest group assessment dates (e.g. if you're out of the country), but may be able to attend one later in the year you should contact your local staffing team to discuss your options.

4.3 I can't make any of the assessment dates / there are no dates available. What should I do?

The majority of our group assessments will run from January to April. During this time, you should be given at least two or three assessment dates to choose from on the staffing portal. We strongly recommend that you make yourself available for one of the dates offered to you.

If you're definitely unable to make any of these dates you have the option to fill out an 'alternative dates' form. We'll do our best to contact you with a different assessment date which fits in with your availability, but we can't guarantee this.

If you're trying to book onto an assessment in April or May, you might find that there are no assessment dates available on the staffing portal. This may not mean that there are no more assessments running, so it's worth calling your local staffing team and seeing if they have any late assessments they can book you onto.

We limit the number of assessments for each role gradually as we fill up our vacancies - therefore, the later you apply for a role and the later you're invited to an assessment, the fewer dates you'll have to choose from.

4.4 What are the assessments like?

When we review your application we'll decide which type of role we think you're best suited to, and invite you to assess for a group of roles. Following your assessment, if you're successful we'll offer you one role. This decision is final, and you won't be able to apply for any other roles.

Our group assessments run for about four hours, and we generally invite around 30 people. The assessment's broken down into various activities, such as group workshops, speeches, role plays and discussions. Depending on the roles your assessing for, you'll be asked to prepare some kind of activity before hand - please refer to your chosen assessment on the 'Booking assessments' page.

Each activity is designed to assess how you'll react in certain scenarios and help us decide which of our seasonal roles you're best suited to.

4.5 What do I need to bring to my assessment?

Depending on your assessment, you'll be asked to prepare a either a presentation/speech, workshop or icebreakers beforehand. To find out what you need to prepare, click on your registered event on the 'Booking Assessments' page or refer to your booking confirmation email.

Dress code: please wear smart-casual, comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. Although the entire assessment takes place indoors, some activities do involve a degree of physical activity.

Documents you MUST bring
Please make a note of the following documents you must bring to the assessment - we need these in order to:

a) Confirm your Right To Work in the UK - the most common document is a UK passport (which can also be used to prove your identity). If you don't have a UK passport, please check other valid document types that can be used on the website.

b) Confirm your identity - please also bring a form of photo identification. The most common forms of ID are passports (any nationality) or driving licenses.

Please note that we will not accept photocopies, only original documents. During your assessment your documents will be checked and scanned by a member of the staffing team. If your documents are not checked at assessment, we will check them at training instead.

4.6 What happens after the assessment?

We'll contact you by email with the outcome of your assessment within 2-3 weeks of the assessment date. If you don't hear anything after 3 weeks please contact your local staffing team.

If you're successful, your email will contain a conditional job offer for the role we'd like you to take on this year, and instructions for how to apply for a new DBS certificate (if you need one). It will also indicate which sections of the staffing portal you'll now need to fill out - e.g. the Essential Information and availability pages.

5, Job offers and availability

5.1 I've been offered a 'conditional' job - what does this mean?

If you're successful at assessment, you'll be 'conditionally' offered a role on the programme. This role offer is dependant on you completing the following:

1. DBS: You must have a valid Enhanced DBS certificate with Children's Barred List checked, dated from 1st January 2018. This can either be your current DBS from another employer, or applied for through The Challenge.
2. References: You must have two satisfactory references no later than 2 weeks prior to your start date.
3. Availability: You'll need to keep your availability up to date on the Staffing Portal - we'll use this information to match you to a vacant role in your preferred location.
4. Training: All seasonal staff are required to attend up to 2.5 days of training for their role; more details to follow in April/May!

Please note: we can't always guarantee you a placement in your preferred location. The more flexible you can be in regards to your work dates and locations, the more likely you are to be allocated to a vacancy.

5.2 I've been offered a role, but it isn't my preferred one. Why is this?

When you attend a group assessment with us, our Staffing Associates and Programmes Assessors bear in mind all of our seasonal roles, not necessarily just the one(s) you've applied for. We do this to ensure that each candidate is matched to the right seasonal role, which their skills, experience and personality suit best. Therefore, it might be that after your assessment you're offered a different role than you were expecting.

In general, this decision is final, and you won't be able to try out for another role. However, if you're concerned that the role you've been offered doesn't fit well with your availability over the summer you're welcome to discuss this with your Staffing Associate (contact details will be at the bottom of your 'offer' email).

5.3 Where can I see the exact work dates for my role?

You can see an overview of the work dates for your chosen role on the job description. Head to and click on your role to download the job description in PDF form. 

5.4 I'm free for a whole wave, except for one working day. Should I still choose this wave in my availability?

Yes - please select this wave! When allocating seasonal staff to a particular wave, we'll prioritise staff who are available for the entire work period first. If we can't find a staff member with full availability to work, we'll start contacting staff with limited availaiblity, and where possible we'll arrange for your shift to be covered by another staff member.

5.5 I'm going to be unavailable for more than a week over the NCS summer programme. What do I need to do?

If you're going on holiday or know you'll be unavailable for longer than three days over the summer, please let us know in the 'Dates when I can't work' page on the Staffing Portal. Please also make sure you don't select any of the waves your absent period runs through in the 'Choosing when I can work' page. We'll make sure we don't bother you during this period, and we'll do our best to prioritise you for the waves that you're fully available for!

5.6 My availability has changed - what do I need to do?

Please make sure you keep your availability as up-to-date as possible in the 'Choosing when I can work' and 'Dates when I can't work' pages on the Staffing Portal. These sections will remain open for you until a couple of weeks before you start your role.

If your change in availabiltiy will affect a work placment you've been allocated to you should contact your Staffing Associate immediately!

6. DBS checks and certificates

6.1 Why do I need a DBS check to work on NCS?

DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) is a government body which provides criminal record checks and safeguarding information to employers.

It is a legal requirement for all people working with children and/or vulnerable adults to undergo a DBS check. We require all seasonal staff to return a DBS certificate so we can ascertain your suitability to work with young people on the programme.

All seasonal staff need to apply for a new DBS through our partner GB Group (we no longer accept external/existing DBS certificates).

6.2 How do I apply for a DBS certificate?

You can apply for a DBS check (paid for by The Challenge) through our partner GB Group. Once you have been conditionally offered a role on the NCS programme, guidance on applying for a DBS will be available in the ‘Essential Information’ section in the Staffing Portal

6.3 Can I use an existing DBS certificate from a different employer?

Unfortunately we can no longer accept existing DBS certificates - all new seasonal staff need to apply for a DBS certificate through our partner GB Group.

If you are a returning seasonal staff member and your existing ‘The Challenge/GB Group’ certificate is still valid (dated since 1st January 2018), you may use this again for your 2019 seasonal role.

This will be updated directly on your Staffing Portal. If your Staffing Portal does not reflect this, please contact your local Staffing Team so they can look into this.

6.4 I have a DBS certificate on the DBS update service - can I use this?

In some cases, we will accept certificates on the DBS Update Service, as long as the certificate was originally applied for through The Challenge. It would also need to be the correct level of check for your chosen role.

To see if your certificate is valid for to use for your 2019 seasonal role, please contact your local Staffing team directly.

6.5 How do I contact about my DBS while my application is processing?

You can contact your Staffing Associate (contact details will be on your ‘job offer’ email) about your DBS application while it is processing. They will liaise with GB Group for you in the event that your DBS check is taking longer than expected, or if your DBS status on the Staffing Portal seems incorrect.

Please note: we can only track your DBS certificate through our system if you use the same email address in your DBS/GB Group application as you have in your NCS job application!

6.6 Will my certificate be posted to me?

Yes - once your application has been processed, your DBS certificate will be posted to you. We’ll then be in touch if we need to witness your certificate in-house (if you don’t hear from us, you don’t need to action anything).

6.7 I've been told that NCS Staffing need to 'witness' my DBS.

We will request to see your DBS certificate if we are notified by GB Group that it has previous records listed on it (we refer to these as ‘listings’).

We will have emailed you a link to upload a scan of your DBS certificate. If you need this link resent please let your local staffing associate know. Please do not send a picture of your DBS over email!

7. The 'Essential Information' section

7.1 Who can I use as a referee?

Before we can let you work on the NCS programme we need to receive satisfactory references from:

Two referees (if you are a new applicant) OR
One referee (if you worked with us in 2018)

Where possible, please provide details for your most recent employer (paid or voluntary). If this doesn’t apply, academic referees are also suitable. Your referee should be able to comment on your character, performance and ability (not all companies do this, so please check their references policies first!).

If you have previously worked for a different NCS provider (e.g. Ingeus, Inspire etc.), please list your contact at this organisation as your first referee.

Please do not provide referee(s) who are:

  • A member of The Challenge’s core staff
  • A family member or friend
  • Unwilling to give a reference for you - check first!

7.2 I've been asked to update my referee details - why?

If you’ve been asked to check or update your referee(s) details, it is because either:

  • We’re struggling to contact them
  • They’re an unsuitable referee

In either case, you will receive an email outlining what you need to do. If this still isn’t clear, please contact your local Staffing team.

7.3 When do I need to provide my bank and tax details?

You will be able to provide this information in the Staffing Portal from April 2019 (when the new tax year begins). It is up to you to ensure that this information is correct.

We will add your bank and tax information to our payroll 3-4 weeks before the first summer wave starts (end of May). After this point the bank and tax sections in the Staffing Portal will be locked down. If your details change after this point, you will need to contact your Staffing Associate directly (contact details will be in your ‘job offer’ email) and they will outline how to update your details.

7.4 How do I submit my tax information?

You can either provide us with a P45 Form from your last employer (if issued since April 2019) or you can make a tax declaration on the Staffing Portal.

P45 Forms: Forms must be dated from 1st April 2019. If you want to send us your P45 please contact your local Staffing Team and they will send you a form so you can upload your file. Please do not send P45s over email.

Tax declarations: You will be presented with 3 statements. Please select the statement which best reflects your employment and income status as it will be when you start your NCS seasonal role. We will use your statement to generate a tax code for you.

If you fail to either provide a P45 Form or make a tax declaration, you will not be paid that pay month month and will have no wait until the next month, no exceptions.

The Challenge cannot answer any tax queries - if you’re unsure what to do on the tax section, please contact HMRC directly.

8. Role training

8.1 I need more guidance for the online training module

Our online training module is mandatory for all staff to complete, alongside their face-to-face role training. You must complete the online module before attending the face-to-face training.

For further information on the online module, please see the FAQs document below. If you have any additional questions, please get in touch with your Staffing Associate!

Online training moduel FAQS

8.2 When do I need to book onto face-to-face role training?

Once you have been allocated to a work placement, you will be able to book onto a face-to-face role training weekend - please note, you will not be able to see any training events on the Staffing Portal until you are allocated to a wave on our system.

If you are waiting to hear back about work placements, please get in touch with your Staffing Associate directly.

8.3 How can I give feedback on my role training?

Our Training team always welcome feedback on their sessions from seasonal staff - please make sure you fill out this survey as soon as possible after your training weekend!

Training feedback survey

9. Entering your payroll, tax and student loans information

9.1 Our payroll policy

We process our summer payroll from July to September, after each wave ends. Our aim is to pay seasonal staff within 37 days of their role’s start date.

Where this is not possible, we have arranged for staff to receive a portion of their pay in advance (referred to as an ‘advance payment date’). Please see FAQ 9.2 to view our 2019 payment dates.

9.2 Which tax declaration should I make?

There are three tax declarations that are available for you to choose.
The three statements are below with a small explanation of what they mean. 
Statement A:
This statement should be chosen if you have not been in employment since April 2019 and will not be in employment before you start your NCS role. 
Statement B:
This should be used if you have had an employment since April 19 will no longer be in employment when you start your NCS roles. 
Statement C: 
This should be used if you will have another employment when you start your NCS placement. 
If you will have a self-employed role or a zero hour contract with another company during your role please see FAQ 9.12. 
If you are still unsure of what tax declaration statement to make please email

9.3 I have a P45 dated before April 2019. What do I need to do?

If you have a P45 dated before April 2019 it is not valid for this tax year. We cannot use it so you must make a tax declaration statement or provide us with a P45 dated after April 2019.

9.4 I have a P45 dated after April 2019.

If you have a P45 dated after April 2019 please send an email to and you will be sent a link so you can upload an electronic version of your P45. 
If you have only received a paper copy of your P45, you will have to take a picture or scan it and send it through via the form. In the interest of data security, we do not accept P45 forms via email. If you will have a P45 issued after 16 June (payroll deadline) you will need to submit a tax declaration statement instead. 

9.5 My P45 will be issued after the 16 June (payroll deadline)

If your P45 will be issued after the payroll deadline (16 June) we suggest that you complete a tax declaration statement instead. This should be able to cover what your new P45 would have given us. If you would still like to give us your P45 when your employment ends please email us once you have this and we will see what we can do.

9.6 When do I have to submit my P45 by?

We need this information by 16 June so that we can ensure that all of our staff are added to payroll in time. Any P45 submitted after this deadline will be subject to delay and it can result in late payment for the staff member affected. It is therefore very important you make the deadlines for submitting a P45. If you are unsure of the P45 that you have we recommend that you submit a tax declaration statement by the deadline and then request a P45 upload.

9.7 I don't understand how to answer about student loan information.

We have to collect student loans information (Student Loans Company/SLC) to understand whether we need to make deductions from your earnings. 
The options you have to submit are to inform us if you:
  • Have never taken out a loan with SLC
  • Have taken out a loan with SLC, but are not paying it back yet (i.e. still in education)
  • Took out a loan with SLC but have already paid it back in full
  • Have graduated and are paying back your loan (calculated payments through your income)
  • Have graduated and are paying back your loan directly to SLC via a direct debit, standing order or payment agreement*
*Any staff who are playing back directly to the Student Loans Company should have a formal correspondence with SLC confirming the terms of your repayment. This means that no student loan deductions will be taken out of your wages by your employment. If you choose this option, we will follow up with an email to make sure you have understood this. 

9.8 How do I know which Student Loan plan I am on?

You’ll have a Plan 1 Student Loan if:
• you lived in Scotland or Northern Ireland when you started your course (undergraduate or postgraduate)
• you lived in England or Wales and started your undergraduate course before 1 September 2012
You’ll have a Plan 2 Student Loan if:
• you lived in England or Wales and started your undergraduate course on or after 1 September 2012
• your loan is a Part Time Maintenance Loan
• your loan is an Advanced Learner Loan
• your loan is a Postgraduate Healthcare Loan 
Post Graduate 
You’ll have a Postgraduate Loan if:
• you lived in England and started your Postgraduate Master’s
course on or after 1 August 2016
• you lived in Wales and started your Postgraduate Master’s
course on or after 1 August 2017
• you lived in England or Wales and started your
Postgraduate Doctoral course on or after 1 August 2018 

9.9 What happens if my circumstances change during the program?

All seasonal staff are on our payroll until September as most of our staff do multiple roles. If your external employment circumstances change during your role at The Challenge, you will need to contact 
HMRC and alert them of your change in circumstances following your placement and subsequent payment in full. HMRC will then send us an updated tax code which will inform us on the deductions we need to make to your earnings. 

9.10 Can I change my tax declaration statement?

After the deadline (16 June) we will not be able to change your tax declaration statement. Instead, you should change your circumstances via the HMRC after you've been paid. If you have an urgent query and need to discuss your tax circumstances please email

9.11 I am a student, how will I be taxed?

Students have not been exempt from tax deductions for a significant period of time now. You must still fill in the new starter form and you will still be subject to tax deductions. With some of our students they are not in employment until they start their role with us and as a result their unused monthly tax free allowance (April - June) rolls over in their first payroll. Please ensure you complete your new starter form by the deadline or you will not be paid in time.

9.12 I am self-employed. How does that affect me?

Any staff who are self employed must declare this in our new starter form (Statement C). You will be put on a BR tax code. For more information around this please see here.

9.13. I pay money directly to Student Loans Company

If you are playing back directly to the Student Loans Company should have a formal correspondence with SLC confirming the terms of your repayment. This will involve you repaying loans via a direct debit, standing order or payment agreement. This means that no student loan deductions will be taken out of your wages by your employment. If you declare that you pay directly to SLC, we may follow up with an email to confirm this. 

9.14 What happens if I missed the payroll deadline?

In the 3 weeks following the deadline, we add all of our staff to our payroll. If you miss the payroll deadline then it will likely delay your payment and we will contact you with further payment information.

9.15 I want more information on my pay.

Once we have processed your payroll, we will send you an email notification with an overview of the payment for that wave and a payment date. This email will also contain a guide on understanding your pay and tax contributions. On the payment date you will receive a payslip via email. All queries around your gross pay should be directed to your Staffing Associate. 
Any queries around tax must be directed to HMRC.  The Challenge will not be able to answer any queries around tax or amend any tax contributions without instruction from HMRC. 

9.16 What happens when I finish my role?

As a number of our staff work multiple waves, our staff remain on our payroll until September. On the September Payroll date we will make all our staff leavers and process your P45. This P45 will be sent electronically to you and will arrive in your email inbox by no later than end of September. 

10. Understanding your payoll (after payment)

10.1 Our payroll policy

We process our summer payroll from July to September, after each wave ends. Our aim is to pay seasonal staff within 37 days of their role’s start date.

Where this is not possible, we have arranged for staff to receive a portion of their pay in advance (referred to as an ‘advance payment date’). Please see FAQ 9.2 to view our 2019 payment dates.

10.2 When will I be paid?

The table below outlines when each wave of staff will get paid.

For some waves we have arranged for staff to receive a portion of their approved pay in advance of the monthly pay date (referred to as ‘advance date’). This is to ensure that you do not have to wait an excessive amount of time between finishing work and receiving payment.
All payment and advance dates are fixed* and can be found on the Staffing Portal in April in ‘My Role’ and FAQs sections.


Advance date

Full payment date


No advance



No advance


















No advance



No advance



No advance



No advance



No advance


10.3 How are daily rates worked out, and why to mine vary?

If you are working a partly residential role (e.g. Youth Programme Leader, Team Mentor, Support Worker),  you will find that your daily pay varies depending on if you are working a residential or non-residential week. This aims to reflect the more varied hours seasonal staff might be asked to work during the residential phases of the programme.

We have worked out your day rates in line with the National Living Wage, meaning salaries vary by the employee’s age (under/over 25). All of our salaries also meet the National Minimum Wage requirements. For more information, please see here.

For more information, please see page 3 of our “Understanding Your Payroll” resource.

10.4 When will I get my payslip and how do I read it?

We send all seasonal staff their payslips on the day of payment (see FAQ 9.2). As we are working with so many staff this year, release is usually staggered throughout the day, so you might receive money in your account before you receive your payslip. If you are missing a payslip, please get in touch with

Reading your payslip may be a bit confusing, depending on your role type and if your wave has an ‘advance payment date. Please see page 6 of our “Understanding Your Payroll” resource for a payslip breakdown, and contact your Staffing Associate for any further guidance.

10.5 How have we worked out your tax code?

Before starting your role, you will have completed a tax declaration or sent us a P45 Form on the Staffing Portal. We then passed this information onto HMRC, who advise us of the correct tax codes to use. We are also informed of any tax updates or changes by HMRC. For full information on tax codes, please refer to the HMRC website.

If you didn’t submit a tax declaration or P45 Form, you will not have been added to our payroll. This is a strict policy implemented in 2019. If you believe this has happened to you, please contact your Staffing Associate directly.

10.6 Who do I contact if I have been incorrectly taxed?

The NCS Staffing Team cannot assist with tax queries. Instead, you will need to go to HMRC directly, who will be able to resolve and action any changes to your tax situation.

When contacting HMRC you should have the following information at hand:

- Your Reference number: top left of your payslip (next to your name)
- PAYE Reference: 120/MB59383
- Full name of the employer: The Challenge
- Full address of the employer: The Challenge, Elizabeth House, 39 York Road, London, SE1 7NQ

For more guidance, please see pages 7 and 8 of our “Understanding Your Payroll” resource.

10.7 I am a student, how will I be taxed?

Students are no longer exempt from tax. However, based on your earnings for the entire year (April to April), you may be eligible for a tax rebate. Please see this page for more information.

10.8 How have we worked out student loans deductions?

We have taken the information you submitted in the Staffing Portal and added it to our payroll. Our payroll software reviews this information to calculate a deduction.

If you do not meet the minimum payment threshold, or do not need to pay student loans, you will not have any student loans deductions taken from your pay.

10.9 When will I receive my P45 Form from The Challenge?

Your P45 Form outlines the end of your employment with The challenge. We no longer post P45 Forms and instead will send yours to you via a password protected email. We’ll also keep a record of it on our system.

We’ll start to generate and send out P45 Forms for all summer staff on our September payment date (11/09/19). The process of generating and sending these may take us up to 3 weeks in total, so you should receive your P45 no later than the end of September.

Your P45 Form will outline how much tax you paid, and how much your earnt in total over the summer. You should keep your P45 for your records, and use it for future employment (if your new role starts within the same tax year).

Your P45 Form also marks when we reset your staff record, so if you are coming back to work on our autumn programme, you will then need to resubmit your tax and student loans information again.

10.10 What do I need to know about Workplace Pension auto-enrollment?

Due to auto-enrolment legislation, employees of The Challenge, including seasonal staff, will be enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. This is a way of saving for your retirement that's arranged by your employer. For further information about the workplace pension scheme, please go to

What does auto-enrolment mean?

Auto-enrolment means that if you fulfil certain criteria for a pension you will automatically be deducted a payment for pension from your salary (criteria below). If you do not want to be in the pension scheme then you can choose to opt out. However, you can only do so once you have been auto-enrolled and the first pension deduction has been made.  Auto enrolment does not take place until the fourth pay period (or greater) so there is at least a period of three months between your first salary payment and first pension deduction (subject to criteria stated below).

What are the criteria for auto-enrolment?

Not all staff will be automatically enrolled. You must fit all the criteria which are explained below.

● Aged between 22 and state pension age
● Included in at least two pay periods (paid in two separate monthly payrolls) over a four month period
● Within these two pay periods earn more than £833 in each payroll month

Pension deduction does not actually take place until a minimum of three months after your first payroll.

What happens next?

If you fit the criteria above we will email you 5 days prior to the payroll date when pension deductions take place. We will provide all the necessary information you need to opt-out. You will then be able to opt-out of any following pension deductions. If you opt-out within one month of the pension deduction then you will be refunded the value of the contribution within 1-2 months; this is all dependent on how quickly Peoples Pension processes your information.

Pension deductions amount to very little and will be no more than 1% of your qualifying earning for that month. Qualifying earnings are everything you earn after £486.00 per month.

How do I opt-out?

You will need an opt-out form from The People's Pension. You can obtain a form by emailing You can return your completed form to the same email address.
Staff will have a one month opt-out period: i.e. you can opt out one month from the date of enrolment. After this 1 month period you cannot claim your money from that month back but you can still opt out for future months.

What other information do I need to know?

We will be processing P45s from September. Once you have been sent a P45 your employment with us has ended. If you are then re-employed with us after this has happened pensions deductions are reset and you will then enter into a pay period 1 again.

11. Expenses

11.1 How can I claim back expenses?

As per our expenses policy, we will only cover expenses occurred from travelling between programme venues during your role - e.g. from the residential accommodation to a community partner venue. As with any other paying job, we will not cover the cost of your travel from home to work.

We will send you an email containing an 'expenses form' link for every wave you work - the link will only be valid for your specific wave. Please read through the form carefully before making any expense claims.

To claim back an expense, you will need photos of your receipts or tickets. We would also recommend that you keep your original receipts/tickets until your expense claim has been approved or rejected.

If you did not receive an email with your expense link at the beginning of your wave, please get in touch with your Staffing Associate directly.

11.2 When will my expenses be paid?

Once you have submitted your expense claims, your Programmes team will review them and either approve or reject them within a couple of weeks.

If approved, your expense claim(s) will be processed in one of our payment runs. Generally, expense payments are made within a week of approval. Please see the table below:

Payment Run Payment approved by Payment Date
1 21/07/2019 26/07/2019
2 28/07/2019 02/08/2019
3 04/08/2019 09/08/2019
4 11/08/2019 16/08/2019
5 18/08/2019 23/08/2019
6 25/08/2019 30/08/2019
7 01/09/2019 06/09/2019
8 08/09/2019 13/09/2019
9 15/09/2019 20/09/2019
10 22/09/2019 27/09/2019
11 29/09/2019 04/10/2019
12 06/10/2019 11/10/2019
13 13/10/2019 18/10/2019
14 20/10/2019 25/10/2019
15 27/10/2019 01/11/2019
16 03/11/2019 08/11/2019
17 10/11/2019 15/11/2019
18 17/11/2019 22/11/2019
19 24/11/2019 29/11/2019
20 01/12/2019 06/12/2019
21 08/12/2019 13/12/2019
22 15/12/2019 20/12/2019

12. NCS Autumn programme

12.1 How is the Autumn programme different to the Summer programme?

The NCS Autumn programme is a shorter, condensed version of our summer programme, which runs from October to December. This year, we will be running Autumn waves during the October half term, and some waves during school term-time with participating schools. 
For general information about the programme, please navigate through the above FAQs. 

12.2 Which roles are we recruiting for the Autumn programme?

As the Autumn programme is run on a much smaller scale compared to summer, there are limited spaces in all locations for the following roles:
  • Youth Programme Leader
  • Pastoral Care Lead
  • Team Mentor
  • Support Worker
  • Creative Workshop Facilitator
  • Public Speaking Trainer

12.3 What are the work dates for the Autumn programme?

Our Autumn work dates vary by region and by role - please choose your role from the list below to see which work dates are available near you:

- Youth Programme Leader 
- Pastoral Care Lead 
- Team Mentor 
- Creative Workshop Facilitator 
- Public Speaking Trainer 
- Support Worker 
- Youth Inclusion Mentor 

12.4 Do I need to attend an assessment for the Autumn programme?

If you are applying for a role on the NCS programme for the first time you will need to attend one of our group assessments.
If you did not work on the Summer programme, but did attend an assessment and were offered a role, you won’t need to assess again if you apply for the same role. If you apply for a different role, you may need to attend another assessment.

12.5 What training do I need to do for my Autumn role?

New applicants will need to attend training before starting their Autumn role - this will generally be one or two days of training. Returning applicants may also need to attend some training if you apply for a different role. Your Staffing Associate will be in touch with further details on training. 

12.6 When will I be paid?

The table below outlines when each wave of staff will get paid.

For some waves we have arranged for staff to receive a portion of their approved pay in advance of the monthly pay date (referred to as ‘advance date’). This is to ensure that you do not have to wait an excessive amount of time between finishing work and receiving payment. All payment and advance dates are fixed.


Advance date

Full payment date


No advance






No advance



No advance



No advance






No advance


12.7 Where can I find information on payroll, tax and student loans for the NCS Autumn programme?

Please read through our 'Understanding Your Payroll' document for information on:

  • Payroll processes
  • Tax
  • Student loans
  • P45 Forms

Please note that the NCS Staffing Teams cannot help with tax queries - if you think that you have been overtaxed or are on the wrong tax code, you will need to contact HMRC directly. Guidance on how to contact HMRC can be found in the 'Understanding Your Payroll' guide.