Home to one of the world’s most important financial centers, the United Kingdom is now seeing new startups pop up in areas such as insurtech, edtech, and alternative finance. It’s too early to know how Brexit will affect the United Kingdom in the long run. Regardless, many employers are still interested in hiring people based in the country. The United Kingdom’s impressive education system and diversity make it one of the most appealing countries to find top talent.
Hiring and recruiting laws are strict in the United Kingdom, so employers need to make sure that they are always drafting strong employment contracts that help protect both the employer and the employee.
There are a few different options for hiring in the UK. Most companies either 1) build an internal recruiting/talent team or 2) partner with a third-party staffing firm. If you decide to partner with a recruiting agency as either an employee or employer, make sure they are compliant with all local labor laws.
Here is everything employers and employees need to know about working in the UK, how to find a job, and how to navigate hiring and recruiting.
To start the job search in the UK, aspiring employees can find open positions on job boards like Indeed and LinkedIn, which are just as popular services in the United Kingdom as they are in the United States. You can also look at specific company websites that post jobs online for positions at their company. Most companies post open roles on the “Careers” page.
Some of the biggest sectors in the UK labor market are:
Wholesale and retail
Each industry has their own recruiting process, so recruitment agencies normally specialize in one specific job sector like education or healthcare. If you go this route, make sure that you are seeking out the right recruitment agency, ideally one that can apply for jobs on your behalf.
While it might seem old fashioned, many employers will still post a job in the UK’s popular newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian or The Telegraph. Use either a hardcopy magazine for daily jobs or go onto the newspapers website to find a wide variety of job postings in specific sectors.
If you’re looking for a job in the UK as a foreigner, you will need to hone in on your skills to get approved for a visa and to receive a job offer.
You will need to make sure that you can qualify for a visa based on the specific job and sector. Checking out the UK government site and exploring these different visa options will give you a better idea of what category applies to your specific career and immigration goals. .
In addition to knowing what type of visa you qualify for, you will also need to have sponsorship and support from an employer to begin the application process. Your future employer will need to apply for a work permit on your behalf, as you need to have a pending job offer to work in the country legally.
Most importantly, the UK government job portal gives expats a great jumping off point to figure out if they have the skills and finances to qualify for employment in the country.
Brexit led to a shortage of skilled laborers in the UK, so it can be a bit difficult to find employees with the right abilities.
One option for companies expanding in the UK is to use a recruiting agency that finds and pays staff themselves. In the UK, these organizations are referred to as employment businesses and can give advice about the hiring and recruiting process.
If your business is in agriculture, horticulture, or shellfish-gathering, you have to work with specific recruiting agencies known as gangmasters. Make sure that when you use a recruiting agency, that they are licensed and recognized.
UK hiring and recruiting laws against discrimination are extremely strict and relate both to direct and indirect discrimination.
You can never make any hiring decisions based on:
Beyond standard anti-discrimination laws, the UK goes even further in protecting against hiring practices that are directly related to discrimination.
Here are some common things to avoid when recruiting:
Avoid using phrases like recent graduate or highly experienced unless they are absolutely related to job requirements
Never ask about protected characteristics like relationship status or if the candidate has children
Don’t ask for someone’s date of birth unless they must be a certain age to fill the position, like for selling alcohol
Only treat people with disabilities more favorably when there is both a disabled and non-disabled person applying for a job and they both meet job requirements to fill the position
In the UK, you need to legally check if the employee has the right to be working within the country. There can be fines of up to 20000 British Pounds for employers who hire without checking the status of an employee's right to work.
To check the employees right to work, businesses must complete this step through the Home Office’s online website. Employers are no longer allowed to accept physical copies of verification that proves an employee can legally work in the UK.
Employers may also request a Disclose and Barrings service check for some applicants, if it’s relevant to the position. Certain roles like healthcare and child care may even require a more detailed check. However, make sure that as an employer, you are eligible to request a criminal record check. You cannot refuse employment because of a prior conviction.
You can ask for a health check only if it's a legal requirement for the job, like a vision test for commercial vehicle drivers. Some companies may need this information verified for insurance purposes.
Once you hire an employee, you must immediately provide an employment statement that outlines the employment conditions. Within the first 2 months of employment, employers need to provide a much larger and more detailed contract that outlines everything from compensation and benefits to severance and termination.
Employment contracts are legally required by British law. The more detailed your employment contract is, the less likely you will encounter compliance problems down the line. Most importantly, having a detailed employment contract protects you as an employer from any future litigation that employees may bring in the case of termination.
Many companies want to hire talented employees in the UK, but want to make sure they follow all British labor and employment laws. Using a global EOR service like Via expedites this process and ensures that you are adhering to all of the correct hiring and employment laws.
With Via, we help you hire, onboard, and pay remote employees across the world. As your employer-of-record abroad, we take care of the local human resources (HR) logistics, such as salary, payroll, benefits, paid leave, and tax deductions. Maintaining compliance is our responsibility. You simply focus on building your team and running your business.