Why employ in the U.K.?

Royal celebrations, prestigious institutions and access to the most refined talent

The United Kingdom is not only home to British royalty, it houses some of the oldest and most prestigious universities, which attract bright young talent from all over the world. In 2017, more than 450,000 international students studied in the U.K.—about 19% of the total student population. With such a large talent pool of international students looking for work after graduation, the U.K is an attractive option for companies that want to grow their global presence.

If expanding to and employing workers in the U.K is on your radar, it’s important to consider how labor laws and cultural norms can affect your growth and workforce strategy. Here are a few factors to weigh:

  • Working hours: The maximum workweek is 48 hours averaged over a period of 17 weeks. Employees are required to keep records of their working time and may opt out of the 48-hour maximum limit by giving written consent. Workers are entitled to a 20-minute rest break every six hours of continuous work, 11 hours of rest per 24-hour period, and 24 hours of continuous rest per week. Only eight hours of work per night shift is allowed, and employees must be offered free health and safety checks.
  • Tax law: Each year, U.K. employees can earn an amount of income that is excludable from income tax, known as a personal allowance. The standard personal allowance varies every tax year—it was 12,500 pounds in 2019.
  • Equality: Organizations with 250 employees or more are required by law to publish data showing differences in hourly pay and bonuses between male and female workers. Equality data must be submitted to the local government and be published on the employer’s website each year. Effective in 2020, annual reports on the difference in pay between CEO and average workers will be required by law. 
  • Vacation and holidays: Under the Working Time Regulations, employees are entitled to 20 days of paid annual leave each year, as well as eight national holidays—including bank holidays. Up to eight unused days of annual leave can be carried over by an employee into the next year. 
  • Benefits: Pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. If they have worked for an employer for 26 weeks, they are entitled to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay, but many employers make payments in addition to the statutory minimum. Two consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave can be taken by eligible employees within eight weeks of a child’s birth or adoption.
  • Culture: Royal celebrations are a big deal in the U.K. Queen Elizabeth celebrates her birthday twice a year, on her actual birthday, April 21, and again on the second Saturday in June, for a parade called the Trooping of the Colour. In 2011, the day Prince William and Catherine Middleton were married was declared a national holiday, which meant an extra day off work for employees that year.

Whether you’re just beginning to explore growing your workforce in the U.K., or you already have contractors in country and are looking to expand their roles compliantly, we can help you navigate the employment laws and cultural considerations that come into play. 

To date, Safeguard Global has helped 125 companies employ more than 700 people in the U.K. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our global solutions experts.


The Safeguard Team
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