So you have decided to move to the UK and find yourself a job. Congratulations, I made the same decision four years ago and there’s not been a single moment when I have regretted it! As an anglophile originally hailing from the Netherlands, I decided to move to Manchester in 2011 to finish my degree in English and see what British culture was all about (a lot of drinking, I must say). I felt so welcomed in the UK that it seemed like the natural thing to do after university to just stick around and try my luck at the job market.
As a foreign national, however, starting a job in the UK isn’t always as straightforward as is told by your newfound British friends or as is indicated on the government website. This is why I’ve written a little manual for all future expats to the UK to answer any basic questions regarding your rights as an employee, tax regulations and more!
What paperwork do I need to have in place before starting work in the UK?
If you’re from a country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you will need to apply for a visa before you move here. First check what kind of visa to apply for, as there are different visa tiers depending on the nature of the job you’ve landed. Have you been offered a skilled job, a highly skilled job or are you studying here or working here temporarily? There’ll be different regulations for each. It’s also possible to enter the country on a tourist or spouse visa. Make sure you’ve made your application up to 3 months before the day you start your new job to have everything ready in time.
As soon as you arrive in the UK, it’s important to apply for a National Insurance Number at your local job centre. This is the case for both EU and non-EU citizens. Your National Insurance Number is used by the tax office (HM Revenue & Customs) and the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure the government has a record of all the tax and pension contributions you’re paying. Without a NINO, it’s also harder (or even impossible) to claim any benefits.
How much tax do I pay?
Everyone who works in the UK pays tax to HM Revenue and Customs. Your employer is responsible for deducting Income Tax and National Insurance from your salary before you receive it. This system is known as PAYE (Pay As You Earn). The amount of tax that has been deducted will be outlined on a payslip, which will be handed to you around payday.
How much tax you pay is dependent on your income. You can earn up to £11,000 without having to pay any tax over it, which is called your personal allowance. You pay 20% income tax over anything you earn between £11,000 and £43,000, 40% over anything between £43,001 to £150,000, and 45% over anything you earn over £150,000 a year. If you earn over £155 a week, you will also have to pay National Insurance contributions (which is 12% if you earn between £155 to £827 a week, and 2% over anything you earn above £827 a week). Different rules apply if you are self-employed.
Do I need insurance?
One of the first things you need to do when you arrive in the UK, is to register with your local GP. This entitles you to free emergency treatment at all National Health Service (NHS) hospitals. However, the NHS is known for its long waiting lists, so if you have a serious illness or condition, it might be advisable to get a private health insurance to get help from private, specialised hospitals that are able to help you quicker.
Other types of insurance (travel, home, car or life insurance) are optional, but keep in mind some insurance companies require you to be a (permanent) resident in the UK. For some companies this means you must have settled here for at least 5 years and obtained an indefinite leave to remain, for other companies it just means you must have lived here for 6 months or longer. If you struggle to meet these requirements, do some research on specific expat or globetrotter insurance policies from either your home country or the UK.
What are my rights as an employee?
In the UK, collective agreements between employers and trades unions are not legally binding. However, your basic rights will be incorporated into your contract of employment. Always make sure you read your contract carefully before you start your new job, as the rights outlined in there are enforceable. Your contract should give details about your wages, pension schemes, sickness, what the grievance, dismissal and disciplinary procedure is and what your holiday entitlement is (at least 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year if you’re in a full-time job).
However, there are some statutory rights based on laws passed by Parliament that apply to nearly all workers. This includes the rights to paid maternity and paternity leave, paid holiday and not to be discriminated against.
This article is contributed by Roman Winter. He is a freelance writer who loves to write about LifeSyle and Fashion Trends. You can reach out to him through his twitter profile.
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