A number of factors will determine whether UK residents have the right to work or take up employment in the UK. These could include their nationality, whether their residence is permanent or temporary and restrictions that may be stated on their visa or any work permit they have.
All UK residents with the legal right to work in the UK have the same rights and responsibilities regardless of where they come from or how long they have been in the UK. Employers are not entitled to treat employees differently just because they are not UK citizens.
Finding Employment in the UK
Some foreign nationals who are UK residents will already have a job when they come to the UK. Others may come to the UK to look for work. Available jobs are widely advertised on the Internet and in newspapers, and employment agencies often have branches on the high street.
Depending on the type of work, the local Jobcentre may be able to help. Jobcentres are run by the government and aim to help people find work.
Terms and Conditions of Employment
Many workers who start a new job will receive a written contract setting out what both the employer and the employee can expect. This should include, amongst other things:
- how much the employee will be paid;
- how many hours the employee must work and how much holiday he is entitled to;
- how much notice must be given if the employee wishes to leave;
- what process the employee should follow if he has a dispute with his employer.
If a job is based on a verbal agreement rather than a formal written contract, the employee is entitled to receive a written statement of the terms and conditions of their employment within two months of starting work.
The law sets out certain basic requirements for employment – including a minimum wage and a maximum number of hours that can be worked. An employer cannot force an employee to accept conditions which fall outside these minimum legal requirements.
Taking Time Off Work
All workers in the UK have minimum legal rights entitling them to take time off work and, in some cases, still be paid by their employer. These include:
- a minimum of 4.8 weeks paid holiday each year for those working full-time;
- the right to take time off work after giving birth – employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave and to receive at least statutory maternity pay for as much as 39 weeks. Fathers are also entitled to take paternity leave but only for up to two weeks;
- the right to take off a certain number of, unpaid, weeks to look after dependent children.
Getting Advice and Resolving Disputes
Employees who become involved in a dispute with their employer or who feel that their rights and entitlements are not being met by their employer should take advice about their situation. There are a number of places that employees can go to get free advice about work-related issues. These include the Citizens Advice Bureau, trade unions related to the type of work done by the employee or ACAS – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. ACAS will also help settle disputes between employers and employees.
In some cases disputes between employers and employees are taken to employment tribunals – special courts which deal exclusively with cases relating to employment.
Paying UK Taxes
All UK residents who earn over a certain amount each year must pay income tax and make national insurance contributions. Most people who are employees will pay these taxes directly out of their wages under the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. The wage slip of employees will show the gross, pre-tax, amount being paid by their employer and the net, after tax, amount that the employee actually receives. Income tax goes towards providing the services that are enjoyed “for free” by all UK residents such as health care, education, rubbish collections, road maintenance and street lighting. National insurance contributions go towards UK residents’ state pension entitlement.
Anyone who is self-employed is responsible for registering with their local tax office and completing annual self-assessment tax returns based on their income and business expenses. All income must be declared – “cash-in-hand” work is no exception. The self-employed must register for tax within three months of starting work or risk having to pay a penalty.