Working in the UK: the complete guide

How to get a job in UK? What visas are required. What are the working conditions? offers you a comprehensive guide on what you need to know to work in the UK.

Understanding the UK labor market

Since the early 1990s, The United Kingdom is the symbol of constant and dynamic growth in terms of employment. The drop in unemployment from 9.3% in 1994 to 5.3% in 2000 shows a country in good health. The history of the British labor market is marked by major changes such as the regulation of trade union activity and the right to strike, redesigned wage standards, the establishment of a minimum wage or the creation of a back-to-work program (“Welfare to Work” “). Net job creations are very numerous, as can be seen of figures from Eurostat: between 1993 and 2005, 3.1 million jobs were created across the Channel (compared to 2.5 million in France at the same time).

Despite a crisis in 2007 which particularly affected the finance, trade and tourism sectors, the UK labor market recovered quickly. But Brexit, then the Covid crisis are hard blows. The pandemic causes job losses for 650,000 people between March and June 2020, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. In detail, self-employment and part-time employment have been hit harder than full-time employment.

Today, the number of vacancies is estimated at around 1.3 million. The UK economy is mainly driven by services, particularly financial and insurance. The industrial sector is also important and is based on the aerospace, chemical, pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

With the expected return of thousands of people seeking work and a slowdown in company recruitment, unemployment should begin to rise in 2023 according to Bank of England estimates. On the wage side, the picture is a little darker: with an average increase of 7% at the start of the year, but correlated with inflation close to 10%, household purchasing power is taking a big hit: wages have worsened.

UK entry requirements

The final withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union put an end to free movement. Since 1 October 2021, it is thus no longer possible to enter British territory with just an identity card. A passport is required. And to work in the UK you need to add a visa depending on your case:

Preparing to apply for a job in the UK

Before you start your job search, don’t forget to prepare your application. For this, some specific rules are important:

  • Write a longer and more detailed CV (a double-sided A4 page, no more)
  • Select only useful information for the offer, remove off-topic activities
  • No need to enter your date of birth or your picture.
  • The letter of motivation (cover letter) is appreciated, but must not exceed a single page and must not repeat information from the CV
  • Don’t translate your CV word for word, have it proofread by an English speaker
  • Highlight the results of past experiences
  • At the same time, update your LinkedIn profile, of course in English

Find a job in the UK

In terms of research, the Internet is the best place to find a job in the UK. Here are the most popular platforms:

  • Guardian Jobs: the dedicated portal for job offers from the “Guardian” news media.
  • The dedicated version of the famous job search engine
  • The first portal dedicated to employment in the UK,
  • TotalJobs: A general portal dedicated to all types of job offers
  • The English version of the Monster search engine
  • Jobcentre Plus: similar to Pôle Emploi in France for advice or other services
  • and of course the French Chamber of Great Britain offers to support any candidate and make their CV visible to members of the CCI

It is not always easy to look for a job in the UK

Find a job without a diploma or without speaking English (or very little)

Yes, it is possible to work in the UK without a degree. Some jobs allow it, such as maintenance agent, security guard, self-service employee, store clerk, order picker, waiter, restaurant dishwasher, seasonal agricultural worker, electrician’s helper (ne), receptionist, carer, chambermaid, green space worker, etc. In short, there is no shortage of “cross jobs”. BUT, Brexit has complicated the situation. Since the beginning of January 2021, the UK has shown a desire to favor access to small “jobs” for the British. You have been warned.

If you speak no (or little) English, it is difficult to work in the UK. In order to find a qualified job, it is necessary to obtain a work visa. This is awarded according to a points system based on – among other things – your level of English… Nothing prevents you from arriving in the UK and improving your level before launching yourself fully into the job market.

Succeed in your job interview in the UK

When the job interview is won, it is also important to know some basic rules to be successful:

  • Prepare well, find out about the position and the company
  • Make sure you arrive on time. Punctuality and time management are paramount in the UK.
  • In addition to a good command of English, try to have some English words specific to your profession
  • Don’t talk about salary unless the recruiter brings up the topic
  • After the conversation, it is possible to send a thank you email, it can make the difference. If you haven’t heard back, you can also request a return from the HR department, the initiative is quite welcome in the UK.

work in London is possible

Everything you need to know about the employment contract in the UK

Although an oral agreement may officially suffice, the employer must submit – within two months of employment – a “written statement” determines the terms for the latter (date of employment, identity and contact details of the employer and you, place of work, position held, salary and payment terms, hours, paid leave, sick pay, notice of termination and pension terms, reference to the associated collective agreement, etc.)

Please note that in addition to the salary, the currency, tax rate and the employee’s bargaining power must be stated. If a trial period is established, it will last approximately three to six months in the UK and should be specified in the contract.

If you earn more than the statutory minimum wage, you are entitled to National Insurance (NIC) contributions. Please note that any non-UK citizen working in the UK must apply for and obtain a National Insurance (NI) number. Registration for social security is necessary for unemployment and pension contributions, which are deducted from the salary.

Know the working conditions in the UK

In the UK, the legal working week is 48 hours. If you are under 18, you work a maximum of 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. Lthe legal retirement age is between 61 and 68, depending on your gender and date of birth.

Regarding vacation, employees in the UK are entitled to an average of 28 days of paid annual leave. Maternity leave lasts 52 weeks and paternity leave lasts one to two weeks. If the spouse returns to work, this paternity leave can be extended. During the year there are 10 public holidays. The most emblematic are New Year’s Day, Good Friday (Good Friday), Easter Sunday (Easter Sunday), the first and last Monday in May, Christmas Day and the day after (called Boxing Day).

welcome to uk!

On the salary side, there is a minimum wage in the UK which depends on one’s age and employment status. From 1 April 2022, the minimum hourly wage for someone over 23 is £9.50 gross, or €10.8. The UK salary level is very dependent on the sector and the position, but also on the company’s experience and location: people earn more in London than in Oxford, Cardiff or Manchester. EIn February 2022, the country’s median wage was estimated at £2041 gross per month (approx. €2321.60). Watch this simulator to get an idea of ​​where to position yourself.

What to know about lawsuits and job losses

In case of dispute in work relations, ask Citizens Advice or contact the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

In case of job loss, either on dismissal or on termination, a period of notice must be respected (except for dismissal for serious misconduct), based on your seniority with the company. There is a mediator for dismissals that are considered unfair.

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