Anyone working in the UK will have rights and responsibilities regardless of where they come from.
Who Can Work in the UK?
Citizens of the UK and of, most, EU countries are entitled to work in the UK without a permit. Citizens of most other countries will have to obtain permission before they are allowed to work in the UK. The visa requirements and restrictions placed on immigrants working in the UK will largely depend on the type of work they do.
Workers must obtain entry clearance for the UK, or visas, before they travel. UK employers who wish to employ a foreign national from outside the European Economic Area will almost certainly have to obtain a work permit for that worker. The period of validity and the terms of the permit will depend on the type of work that the foreign national is being employed to do.
Any employee in the UK is entitled to certain minimum conditions of employment and all employees, whether or not they have a written contract of employment, are entitled to receive a written statement of the terms of their employment within two months of starting work.
Most employees over the age of 16 are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage regardless of the type of work they do. From October 2008 the minimum wage for a worker aged 22 and above is £5.73 an hour. There are also rules about the maximum number of hours that an employee can be forced to work. Most workers are entitled to a minimum number of weeks of paid holiday each year.
Workers have the right to do their job free from discrimination due to their race, nationality gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs, age or any disability they may have. Other rights include the right to take paid time off work to have a baby and the right to join a trade union. The workplace should also be free from bullying or harassment.
If a worker has any concerns that their working conditions do not comply with their rights, there are a number of organisations who can be approached for advice or help. ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and the Citizens Advice Bureau can both provide free advice about employees’ rights.
Paying Tax in the UK
In addition to enjoying many rights, UK employees also have a number of responsibilities. One of the main requirements is to pay tax on income and to make National Insurance contributions, which go towards a worker’s state pension entitlement.
The income tax for most employees is taken directly out of their wages under the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) scheme. Pay slips should show the before-tax wages and the after-tax amount that the employee will actually receive. However, the self-employed and some other categories of workers will have to complete a self-assessment tax form which Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will use to calculate their income tax and National Insurance contributions.
All self-employed workers must register with HMRC using form CWF1 before the end of the third month in which they started work or they may have to pay a penalty. It is then their responsibility to file self-assessment tax returns each year. These can either be filed in paper or online. If HMRC is to calculate the tax, the forms must be returned by 31st October 2008.
For most people the final deadline for the tax year is 31st January by which date all tax returns must be filed and any tax due must be paid. If tax returns are filed late, penalties and interest will be incurred. HMRC have considerable legal powers to pursue those who fail to pay tax or to declare their income.