Step 5: Understanding Worker’s Rights in the UK

Now that you’ve moved to the UK, settled in and opened up a bank account, you’ll probably move on to one of the next steps – finding a job in the UK.

When searching for a job in your new country, one of the important things to understand is what your rights are as a worker here in the UK. It’s best to know details such as what the minimum wage is or how much is deducted for taxes, so that you know you are being treated fairly. To help you understand the basics, we’ve put together key points to remember below.

What is the National Minimum Wage?

The wage can change depending on your age. Here are the most up to date figures (as of April 2017):

25 and over: £7.50/hour
21-24: £7.05/hour
18-20: £5.60/hour
Under 18: £4.05/hour
Apprentice: £3.50/hour

How much goes towards National Insurance?

The rate will change depending on how much you earn, and your employer takes it out of your wages before you get paid.

If you earn £680 to £3750 per month, the rate is 12%
If you earn over £3750 per month, the rate is 2%

Find out more about where the National Insurance tax goes towards here.

An Overview of Employee and Worker Rights

For those who work in the UK, there are two major sections that people fall under: either you are an employee or a worker. It is a fine line between the two, but an important one as your rights change depending on which status you are classified as.

Workers are classified as those who do casual or occasional work, such as temp workers. There is a contract with the employer, however the employer cannot be a customer or client of the individual. Their rights include the following:

Right to National Minimum Wage
Paid annual leave
Statutory minimum length of rest breaks
Maximum hour working week (48 hours)
The right not to have unlawful deductions from wages
The right not to be discriminated against unlawfully
Statutory minimum level of paid holiday
The right not to be treated less favourably if they work part-time

Employees are classified as someone who works under an employment contract – the employer provides a person with duties/full hours and the person agrees to do that work in return for an agreed salary or wage. They will receive all the workers’ rights listed above, plus the following:

Statutory Sick Pay
Maternity/Paternity leave and pay
Minimum notice periods if their employment will be ending
Protection against unfair dismissal
Time off for emergencies
Statutory Redundancy Pay
Right to request flexible working

Terms & conditions may vary from company to company, but with any job you start there are a few things that you must know about beforehand.

  • Your earnings before and after any deductions
  • The amount of any deductions that may change each time you’re paid (ie: tax and NI)
  • The day or date you’ll be paid (ie the last day of the month or each Friday), how you’ll be paid (ie: cash, check, bank transfer)

Also, please note only employees have the right to a payslip every month.

Notice periods

Always check your contract to find out the exact details of your employer’s policy on handing in notice. There are different rules about giving notice and also what will happen if you leave to work for a competitor company based on individual contracts, but these general rules apply to all jobs:

Giving Notice
You must give at least one week’s notice if you’ve been in your job for more than a month.
You must give at least two weeks’ notice if you’ve been in your job for more than 2 years.
For more information about understanding worker’s rights, please head to the government website.

When you find yourself a job, you might be thinking about the best way to send money to family or loved ones back home, or to go on some travels.

It’s always best to look for good rates and low fees – a lot of banks and transfer companies charge high fees, so in the next step of our guide we help you send money safely, and quickly. Stay tuned as we’ll be publishing how best to send money abroad next week!