United Kingdom Country Facts

We provide comprehensive information regarding, Culture, Work life, Taxation, Visa’s & immigration, Labour Law, recruiting in the UK and employment contracts.

Global Expansion Made Easy for You

Expanding into the UK generally comes with challenges, however, partnering with us and using Employer of Record (EOR) eliminates the frustrations you could encounter.

UK Visas and Work Permits

Expanding into a country or hiring a workforce abroad can lead your business to great profits, but unfamiliar laws and regulations can counteract your company’s goals and plans. At Bradford Jacobs, we want to eliminate this complicated part. By using our PEO service we can arrange all needed visas and permits including the entire application process without your physical presence. Few companies have these resources, or the time. We are experts in hiring staff, applying for work visas in the UK and ensuring employees meet UK work visa requirements with the correct documentation.

Our team is trained to research the latest information on UK visas and work permits and therefore, we created a guide to introduce you to the rules and requirements. By reading this guide you will get familiar with all the requirements so you or your employees can start working in the UK in no time.

UK Work Visa Permits

Applicants must have a confirmed job offer from a licensed UK employer who will act as sponsor, possess a Sponsorship Certificate issued by the employer and have passed a points-based assessment. The employer handles the procedure. Obtaining a UK work visa involves meeting strict eligibility criteria, which may vary for different countries and can apply to high value workers as well as temporary employees and domestic staff under the tier system.

What are the types of UK Work Visas?

The points-based tier system assesses applicants, who must score a minimum number total, depending on the category of visa being applied for:

  • Tier 1: High Value Migrants
  • Tier 2: Skilled Workers
  • Tier 3: Unskilled Workers
  • Tier 4: Adult Students
  • Tier 5: Temporary Workers

We also advise on other routes into the UK. Commonwealth citizens with a British grandparent can apply for an ancestry visa. If an employee left the UK for over two years through ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (ILR) they may need only a returning resident visa to work.

Applying for a Work Visa in the UK

Employees should apply three months before their start date, either via an application center or the UK Home Office Visas and Immigration Service. Applicants must check which tier of visa they need as evaluation and assessments can vary for each. Having only a visitors’ visa will not allow them to work. Companies can onboard foreign employees into the UK, but various visa types depend on skills and qualifications, job offer, sponsorship and whether family travels with the worker. No matter the type of Visa, an individual applying for a work visa requires:

  • a valid passport or travel ID
  • two colored photographs taken in the last six months
  • proof of financial means
  • proof of accommodation
  • travel itinerary
  • test results from a tuberculosis test
  • biometric information
  • a sponsor confirmation from their UK employer
  • proof of English language ability
  • proof of healthcare
  • confirmation of receiving a minimum wage
  • certified translations of diplomas and/or certificates
  • Processing of a visa takes at least 3 weeks.

Make Bradford Jacobs your partner in applying for work visas in the UK and sidestep issues which will eat up the time you should be spending on advancing business expansion. UK work visa requirements are complex. Don’t risk mistakes that could cost time and money.

UK Tax Laws & Regulations

Global expansion is a great way to grow your business and the UK offers many appealing opportunities. However, the tax laws can be complex and require time-consuming research. By using our PEO service we will take care of the complicated legwork so that you can focus on your business goals in Britain. Britain is seen as a world leader in innovation and boasts to have one of Europe’s most flexible labor markets. The country also offers many unique tax opportunities for international businesses, such as low corporate tax, favorable double taxation treaties, favorable withholding taxes on interests and royalties, and more. The country also benefits from a well-educated workforce, low-cost business environment, and low costs of living.

We have made it our goal to keep track of the latest changes in the tax policies to always ensure complete compliance. To keep you informed and updated too, we created this guide which includes the basic facts regarding tax regulations in the UK.

Overview of UK Tax

Individual Income Tax – Progressive
VAT – 20%
Corporate Income Tax – 19%
Employer & Employee Social Security Contributions – Depends on employee’s income and category
Capital Gains and Withholding Taxes – 20%
Individual Tax UK – Single, Married

In the UK, an individual’s liability to pay income taxes is determined by their residency status and the source of their income. UK residents are taxed on their worldwide income, whilst non-residents are only taxed on certain types of income that are derived from local sources.

Personal Income Tax in the UK is progressive, based on the amount of income an individual has earned:

  • £0 – £12,570 – 0%
  • £12,571 – £50,270 – 20%
  • £50,271 – £150,000 – 40%
  • £150,000 and over – 45%

The first tax rate is known as the Personal Allowance, where no tax is requested on income that is under or equals to £12,570.

The amount of income tax that is paid in a tax year depends on two factors:

  • How much of the individual’s income is above the Personal Allowance rate.
  • How much of an individual’s income falls within each tax band.

An individual’s income tax is normally withheld from an individual’s salary under the PAYE system. However, not all earnings may be subject to PAYE, but there are a number of special schemes and reliefs that may be used to help limit the PAYE earnings or operate the earnings on an estimated or annual basis. In some cases, the obligation to operate PAYE is also removed.

An individual is also required to pay social security contributions, which are known as national insurance contributions – they must be withheld by employers and paid by the end of the following month. Individuals are taxed on their employment income, with certain tax-free allowances on other sources of income such as dividends, savings interest, and the first £1,000 of income from self-employment or renting property.

The country also operates under a self-assessment tax system – however, one may still need to complete a tax return, which is issued by the HMRC each year. Married couples are independently taxed, and each person must file their own return. Tax returns must be filed and paid by the 31st of January following the end of the tax year. For those filing on paper, the filing deadline is brought forward to the 31st of October after the end of the tax year, which are now only being accepted under certain circumstances (in a move to being fully online).

UK Subsidiary Entity Set Up

Global expansion into the UK generally means that you need to set up an in-country entity. However, by partnering with us you create the possibility to bypass this process and utilise our UK entity. By using our PEO service we take care of the complicated paperwork. Expanding into a new country is always an adventure, but we believe this adventure should be exciting instead of just frustrating and time-consuming. Therefore, we have been supporting companies in over a hundred countries with their expansion plans.

In this guide, we will share which documents you need to establish an entity in the UK, but also where you will need to register your business address and company’s name. We will also break down the advantages and disadvantages of setting up an entity in Britain.

Setting up an entity in the UK

In the UK, foreign subsidiary entities act as an extension of the parent company, but enjoys the same company standing as domestic businesses, and are subject to all national laws. The registration process in the UK comes with some variation (depending on the company type), but it is generally straightforward and can be done with little difficulty. Tax processing, filing accounts, law compliance, workforce management, payroll, recruitment all these matters must be managed effectively, which can eat up your time, money, and resources. You can lighten this load by partnering with Bradford Jacobs, an Employer of Record (EOR) company. Use our services and be up-and-running with a presence in your new territory within days, rather than months.

How to set up a UK Subsidiary

Setting up a subsidiary requires these steps:

Decide on the company type that suits the nature of your business, your business goals and matches your own capabilities to meet establishment requirements. Common company types include:

  • the Limited Liability Company
  • the Public Limited Company
  • the Company Limited by Guarantee
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Branch Office
  • Representative Office

Obtain a business address in the UK. The business address must be in the same country that the company is being registered in –for example, a company registered in Wales must have a business address in Wales.

  • Decide on a company name and check on its availability.
  • Appoint a company secretary.
  • Prepare the appropriate registration documents.
  • Open a local business bank account in the UK and deposit the appropriate share capital.
  • Notarise registration documents at a notary’s office.
  • Register your company at the Companies House.
  • Register with the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs.
  • Register for a VAT Number.
  • Receive Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Register with National Insurance to pay social security contributions from employers and employees.
  • Registration Times & Fees
  • Open a bank account – Depends on bank
  • Application: Electronic Software Filing – £10 (£30 for same-day applications)
  • Application: Web Services – £12
  • Application: Paper Filing – £40

Overall, the company registration process takes less than a week (without delays). Registration for a corporate bank account, however, may take more time – any time between 4 weeks to 3 months, depending on the bank’s registration process.

Entering the UK Market

Foreign companies who wish to expand into the UK will be met with a world-renowned business hub that includes a highly educated workforce, attractive tax rates and incentives, as well as low labor and administration costs. However, setting up shop in an unfamiliar place comes with its own challenges. Foreign businesses must comply with employment, tax, payroll, and corporate legislation whilst ensuring that their employees are working productively and efficiently.

The alternative solution to overcoming these issues involves working with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) such as Bradford Jacobs, using our Employer of Record (EOR) in-country experts to handle every aspect of compliance. You can depend on our specialists’ in-depth knowledge of the UK’s culture, customs, and business practices.

Starting a Business in the UK

The UK’s geographical position benefits from access to diverse marketplaces in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. With strong commercial services, communications, and manufacturing sectors, as well as high-quality logistics and infrastructure, this creates an attractive environment for any business owner who seeks to expand their business. To start a business in the UK you must go through a company registration procedure, which is straightforward and designed to be executed easily. These steps can be done in person or online through the government website or electronic software filing.

The necessary steps to start a business in the UK include:

Decide on the company type that suits the nature of your business, your business goals and matches your own capabilities to meet establishment requirements.

Obtain a business address in the UK. The business address must be in the same country that the company is being registered in – so a company registered in Scotland must have a business address in Scotland, for example.

  • Decide on a company name and check on its availability.
  • Appoint a company secretary.
  • Prepare the appropriate registration documents.
  • Open a local business bank account in the UK and deposit the appropriate share capital.
  • Notarize registration documents at a notary’s office.
  • Register your company at the Companies House.
  • Register with the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs.
  • Register for a VAT Number.
  • Receive Certificate of Incorporation.
  • Register with National Insurance to pay social security contributions from employers and employees.
  • Acquire a trading certificate before commencing business (depending on the company type you choose)

Expanding Business into the UK

Foreign entities wishing to expand into the UK will be met with a thriving economy that benefits from low corporate tax rates and attractive tax reliefs, highly-qualified talent pool and attractive labor and administrative costs – which is provided to all entities that enter the market.

The UK has the largest air transport system in Europe, and its location benefits from its proximity to all of Europe’s leading technology markets, which can be reached in under 2 hours from any of South England’s international airports. The country’s position also offers easy trade between continents, with the help of its strong infrastructure. Expanding one’s business into the UK creates a lot of opportunity for expansion both nationally – particularly to popular district capitals such as London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Belfast, which are popular tourist and commercial destinations – and internationally.

Business Facts

  • Capital City – London
  • Population – 67.88 million
  • Cities – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cardiff, Birmingham, Coventry, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast, Perth
  • Official language(s) – English
  • Economy/GDP (2020) – 1.96 trillion
  • World Ranking (Ease of Doing Business) – 8th
  • Leading sectors – Finance and banking, information technology, construction, oil and gas, government, healthcare, manufacturing
  • Main exports – Machinery including computers, vehicles, gems and precious metals, mineral fuels including oil, electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals
  • Main imports – Crude and refined petroleum, vehicles, packaged medicines, computers
  • Main trading partners – European Union, USA, Germany, Netherlands, France, China, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, Italy
  • Government – Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Currency – GBP, British Pounds
  • Advantages and Challenges of the UK Market

The Benefits:

The UK is the eighth easiest country in the world to carry out business, according to the World Bank’s report on the Ease of Doing Business Report.

UK Corporation Tax is 19%, which is the lowest in the G20.

The UK has a 10% Corporation Tax rate for profits on inventions patented in the UK.

UK-based companies are in easier geographical reach of 500 million potential customers in the EU alone.

The UK’s 30 million workforce includes world-class academic/research talent and highly skilled workers.

Overall labor costs in the UK are lower than many European competitors, such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Post-Brexit the UK is free to set tax, legal and finance regulations independently and react flexibly to market changes.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks the UK with the fewest barriers to entrepreneurship and the third fewest barriers to trade and investment.

The UK boasts a range of ‘business clusters’ nationwide including advanced engineering and medical technologies, life sciences and renewable energy.

The Disadvantages:

Leaving the EU brings uncertainty over cross-border commerce. British companies exporting to the EU face new tariffs, while EU businesses exporting to the UK could be discouraged if they also face new tariffs.

Cost of establishing/terminating a subsidiary or entity.

Fines and penalties for failing to comply with employment, taxation, and immigration regulations.

Business practices and cultural barriers.

Managing payroll and HR obligations of international employees remotely.

UK Employment Contracts

A successful business largely depends on its employees. By creating working contracts that include the right terms and benefits there will be no misconception and the perfect work-life balance can be created. At Bradford Jacobs, this is our aim, and we support companies in over a hundred countries with creating compliant and balanced labor contracts. Our team in the UK keeps track of the British laws and regulations on a daily basis to be duly aware of updates that can be implemented in working contracts. By using our PEO and EOR service we can provide compliant labor contracts for employees in the UK including local benefits.

To support your plans, we made this guide including the basics of employment contracts in Britain. After reading this guide you will know everything about social security, notice periods, and the average working hours.

How Do You Hire UK Employees?

If a foreign company is looking to hire resident employees as part of their expansion into the UK, they must comply with the recruitment regulations concerning tax, social security contributions, employment law, as well as collaborate with or adhere to any collective bargaining, trade unions, or work council agreements. In the UK, employment agreements are determined in written employment contracts, although this is not mandatory by law. There are two types of employment contracts that are practiced are the indefinite contract and the fixed-term contract.

National legislation and collective agreements are the main sources of employment law in the UK, which govern employment conditions, benefits, and health and safety regulations. The conditions performed vary according to the industry and sector. To be fully aware of what you can and cannot apply to your employment practices in the UK, it is important for the employer to know the existing labor laws and employee entitlements, as well as collaborate with the appropriate local employment organizations.

Employment Contracts in UK

In the UK, an employment contract is not required to be concluded in writing, but the law does oblige the employer to provide the employee with a written statement that includes specific information regarding the terms of their employment:

  • Personal/contact information about both parties
  • Job title of the employee
  • The date of the commencement of the employment relationship
  • Salary and payment intervals
  • The place of work and the registered address of the business
  • The hours of work and information about working patterns
  • Holiday, sick pay, and other paid leave entitlements
  • Notice period and probationary period provisions
  • Disciplinary and grievance policies
  • Training entitlements

Whether the terms of employment are governed by a collective agreement

However, if employment contracts are used, there are two types of contracts that are applied in the UK:

  • Indefinite employment contract – the standard type of employment contract in the UK, which is used for indefinite employment.
  • Fixed-term employment contract – Fixed-term contracts are valid for a specific length of time and are used in cases where a specific task must be completed or when a specific event takes place.
  • Any changes to the employment contract must be made with the consent of both the employee and employer. If the employer wishes to amend the employment terms, they must discuss and agree to the changes with the employee before doing so.

Collective Agreements:

Collective bargaining and agreements in the UK are practiced, but their influence in employment varies according to the sector. Collective bargaining in the UK takes place both at industry-level and company-level. Bargaining is more prevalent in the public sector, rather than the private sector. Over a quarter of employees in the private sector and about 90% of employees in the public sector in the UK are covered by collective agreements.

Collective agreements in the private sector mostly occur at the company level or individual workplace level, covering more than three quarters of employees in the sector. However, there are still some industry-level bargaining that occurs in some private industries, particularly in construction or some parts of the arts and entertainment industries. Collective agreements are not valid for a specific period, but they most commonly are valid for a year. Industries where most employees are covered by company-level and workplace-level agreements include utilities, gas, electricity, water, telecommunications, finance, and manufacturing.

What are the Employee Benefits in the UK?

Happy and satisfied employees make your business thrive and lead to even better profits. However, the specific benefits for employees in the UK might not all be familiar to you yet. By using our PEO and EOR service we can provide compliant labor contracts for employees in Britain including local benefits. When expanding your company’s presence in a new country, you need to ensure compliance both in your employment contracts and benefit guarantees. These involve social security contributions, sick leave, health insurance, and unemployment, to name a few. In the UK, benefits are guaranteed by national legislation as well as collective agreements with trade unions or workers’ councils.

Our guide will explain what benefits and employee compensation are guaranteed, and what can be modified, for any employer who wishes to expand their business into the world leader of innovation.

What UK Compensation Laws Exist?

In the UK, compensation laws are set by national legislation, but the types of compensation can vary according to the sector the employees are in, regulations of collective agreements, and the internal regulations of the company. For example, there is no 13th month pay in the UK, but employee bonuses can be given at the discretion of the employer or can be negotiated as performance clauses in the employment contract. There are, however, benefits and/or compensation that are guaranteed by national legislation:

Minimum wage: All employees in the UK are entitled to receive at least the statutory minimum wage in the UK. This wage is split into two types, which varies by age:

  • National Living Wage – for employees over the age of 23
  • National Minimum Wage – for employees that are under 23 but must be at least over the school-leaving age to receive it.

Social Security Contributions: Both employers and employees must contribute to National Insurance, which depend on the employee’s salary and category.

Termination and Severance: Employee termination must be done within a statutory notice period, which depends on their length of service:

  • At least one week’s notice – employed between one month and 2 years
  • One week’s notice for each year – employed between 2 and 12 years
  • 12 weeks’ notice – employed for 12 years or more

This also includes a severance payment, known as a ‘notice pay’, which must include all pending overtime payments, bonuses, and payment for annual leave not taken.

Work Hours and Breaks: All employees must be paid for the hours that work. There is no statutory payment for overtime work, but payment should not fall under the National Minimum Wage.

Sick Leave and Payments: All employees are entitled to sick leave, and employees are entitled to a statutory sick pay if they have been unavailable to work for 4 or more consecutive days. The weekly rate for this pay is £96.35 and can be paid for up to 28 weeks.

Holiday and Vacation Leave: Employees are entitled to a minimum of 28 days of paid annual leave per year. An employer can also choose to include bank holidays as part of the employee’s annual statutory leave.

Maternity Leave: Pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, which is split into two types of leave:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave – the first 26 weeks of leave
  • Additional Maternity Leave – the last 26 weeks of leave

The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Employees may not take all 52 weeks of their maternity entitlement, but they must take two weeks’ leave once the baby is born. Pregnant employees are also entitled to a statutory maternity pay (SMP) if they have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks and meet minimum earning requirements. Employees may claim this allowance as soon as they have been pregnant for 26 weeks, and payments can start 11 weeks before the child is due.

Maternity Pay is currently set at 90% of the employee’s average earnings for the first six weeks of maternity leave, or £151.97 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.

Paternity Leave: Eligible employees can take 2 consecutive weeks of paternity leave within a period of 56 days, which begins with the date of the child’s birth in blocks of a week at a time. If the employee is already on parental leave, they are not entitled to paternity leave. The qualifying week for this leave is the 15th week before the child is due. The employee’s eligibility includes 26 weeks of continuous service, be expectant of the responsibility for the upbringing of a child, and be the biological father of the child, or married to/the civil partner of the child’s mother. The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £151.97 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings.

Parental Leave: Employees are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child or adopted child, until they reach 18 years of age. Each parent is entitled to 4 weeks of parental leave, which should be taken in a period of one week’s duration unless agreed between the employer and employee.

Unemployment: Individuals who are looking for work are entitled to a Jobseeker’s Allowance, which is a weekly allowance, with the amount depending on a person’s age.

  • 25 and over – up to £74.70 per week
  • Up to 24 – up to £59.20 per week

This allowance will only be met if the individual has previously paid to National Insurance and agree to take the necessary steps to look for work whilst receiving this allowance.

Top Talent in the UK

Hiring the right talent in the UK to expand your company can result in a thriving business with numerous opportunities. However, the recruitment process can be complicated when you have no physical presence in Britain yet. Our PEO and EOR service can be the solution for your company.

Recruitment can be a tricky business, especially when a company is venturing into unfamiliar countries and exploring new markets. This is the perfect occasion to bring in a specialist to oversee the process for you. Our comprehensive knowledge of all British employment sectors and understanding of the culture and customs guarantee an untroubled transition. Look through our guide to familiarize yourself with everything an employer needs to know about the recruitment process in the UK.

The Recruitment Process in the UK

Employers in the UK use a variety of recruitment methods to find the best applicants for their company, such as employee referral schemes (which varies according to the organization), external recruitment (through job boards, local job centers, recruitment agencies, LinkedIn, and links with local colleges or universities), and internal recruitment (providing career development opportunities and promotion to the company’s workforce).

Once the right employee is found, the employer must follow thorough staffing and registration procedures. These include:

  • Registering with the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs
  • Registering for National Insurance
  • Creating employment contracts for your new employees in English and other languages (if required)
  • Calculating employees’ monthly salary and sending them their pay slips

The recruitment process requires time and dedication, and how can you find these things in the array of all these complicated tasks? Well, allow us to provide the answer – by engaging an Employer of Record (EOR) such as Bradford Jacobs. By acquiring our services, we can convert your British expansion goals into an action plan with a few simple steps:

Bradford Jacobs steps in as an EOR and acquires the right employees, ensuring they comply with UK employment contracts, payroll, HR, tax, visa requirements, and work permits (if required). We manage all work-related registration formalities, whilst you have daily control of your employees. The employees complete their time sheets and expenses claims and we invoice you, the client. Once paid, we deduct all contributions to the British authorities and transfer the balance into employee’s account. Within a few days, your company has international presence in the UK – in a prime position to explore further expansion without risking the expense or hassle of setting up your own subsidiary or branch office.

Legal Checks You Can Make on Employees

When commencing the recruitment process in a foreign country, employers must consider their legal obligations regarding personal information. Employers must carry out background checks, which are only considered fair and legal if they relate directly to a job and are necessary for reaching a decision on recruitment. These background checks may also only be carried out with the consent of the candidate, and all employee information must be protected according to GDPR and data protection laws.

Nevertheless, employers recruiting in the UK may ask for the following checks (following certain conditions):

  • Immigration Compliance: Employers are obliged to check that job applicants have the necessary immigration papers and are allowed to work in the UK.
  • Criminal record checks: Employers may request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for job applicants. Certain senior roles may be eligible for a more detailed background check, such as healthcare or childcare.
  • Health checks: Employers may only ask for health checks from successful candidates if it is a legal requirement and affects their ability to do their job.
  • Information about these checks must be featured in the offer letter and requires written consent from the candidate before asking for a health report from the candidate’s doctor.
  • Candidates are entitled to see the report, as well as ask that it be changed or withheld from their prospective employer. Employers must make sure that these health checks do not discriminate or discourage people from applying for the job.
  • Reference and educational checks: Often done in practice, to assess a candidate’s suitability regarding work performance.
  • Employment history checks

Work Culture in the UK

To succeed in business in the UK, it is vital for both employers and employees to have a strong understanding of the business culture. British business culture reflects modern and globalized Western society, which places importance on both the work and wellbeing of management and employees. As a global PEO (Professional Employment Organization) it is our goal to be familiar and updated with the business culture in the country we work with and in. By sharing our knowledge about the British work culture, we want to support your global expansion plans. Therefore, we will address all the aspects of the work culture in the UK to start your expansion well-informed.

Work Culture

Punctuality, politeness, skillful and pragmatic negotiation, and humor are significant to the development of business relationships in the UK. Local businessmen place great importance in their relationships; thus, it is important to both you and your local business partners to treat business dealings with respect and great care. Punctuality: In Britain, people make a great effort to arrive to meetings or events on time, but they have also formalized being a bit late (up to 10 minutes). If you are arriving late, it is best to inform the person or people you are meeting with.

Languages: English is the official language in the UK and is also the predominantly spoken language in the UK. It is unlikely that many people in the UK will speak other languages – even though the majority have had some language training at school.

In the UK, many are not comfortable making mistakes in front of others so they may choose not to speak in other languages, but this does not mean that they do not understand them. Thus, knowledge of English is important for our business dealings, or the engagement of appropriate interpreting facilities.

Business Cards: Before or at the beginning of a meeting, associates typically exchange business cards. Business cards should display someone’s job, first name and surname. Academic titles are normally not included on a business card unless they are relevant to the person’s work.

Introductions/Greetings: The most common greeting in the UK is a handshake, which should be firm, but not too strong. In social settings, greetings are usually informal, and first names are used. In introductions, it is best not to ask too many questions, as this can be seen as prying. However, you should ask where they are from in the UK, so as to not mistake them from being English if they are Scottish, vice versa, etc.

Gift-giving: Gifts are typically only given on special occasions and tend to be opened in front of the giver upon being received or later along with other presents. They should not be of high monetary value and should reflect the person’s interests. Gifts such as wine and chocolate should also be given when visiting someone’s home.

Dress code: Dress codes in the UK are strict. Men wear suits, ties, and white, striped, or colored shirts and black shoes; whilst women wear suits (trouser or skirt) or dresses, often with high heels. However, many organizations have more casual clothing styles on a Friday.

Hierarchy: The vast majority of companies and organizations in Britain have a distinct hierarchy. British managers are firm, resolute and effective in their instructions, which often are expressed as polite requests, or even suggestions – their authority as decision-makers should also not be challenged.

Class distinctions are also still present and important in British culture, although it is not directly obvious. Differences in social status such as manner of speech, dress, and behavior, as well as educational background and networks, also play a role in the workplace and their hierarchical structure

Meetings: Meetings in the UK are time-consuming and set well in advance – and local businessmen prefer working with people that they know, relate to, or can identify with. So, an informal introduction before the meeting is preferential. Most meetings have a set agenda, and they typically begin with some icebreakers and small talk. Discussions in a meeting can be informal, and due to the task-oriented structure of meetings in Britain, each participant will usually leave with a specific task to carry out.

Negotiations: In the UK, local businessmen are skillful and tough negotiators, and follow a pragmatic approach in negotiations. Throughout negotiations, it is important to stay calm and polite. An informal and humorous tone may sometimes be used to disguise the seriousness of an issue being discussed. Agreements need to be formalized in writing, and it is rare for a commitment or agreement to be announced right away.

Communication: Humor is an integral part of the typical subtle communication that is experienced all across the UK. The British are known for their irony and humor – however, this runs the risk of non-native speakers misunderstanding their counterparts. Understatements and euphemisms are commonly used as a means to indirectly emphasize a point – for reasons of modesty, preventing embarrassment, or expressing criticism whilst remaining polite.

Socializing: British work culture involves the tendency to keep work and private lives separate. However, in most companies, colleagues like to socialize out of work, such as enjoying after-work drinks together on Fridays. Invitations to someone’s work are gestures of affection and sympathy and normally occurs when the relationship of business partners has progressed into a friendship.

Minimum Wage

All employees in the UK are entitled to receive at least the statutory minimum wage, which is split into two types, depending on your age and/or apprenticeship:

  • National Living Wage – for employees aged 23 and over
  • National Minimum Wage – for employees who are at least school-leaving age (16-18)
  • As of April 2021, these minimum wage rates apply:
  • Apprentice – £4.30
  • Under 18 – £4.62
  • 18 – 20 – £6.56
  • 21 – 22 – £8.36
  • 23 & over – £8.91


There is no statutory probationary period in the UK, but the employer can implement one, which must be consented to by the employee. Most probationary periods are between 3-6 months.

An organisation may also extend a probationary period to allow more time to assess the new employee’s suitability, but only if it forms part of the employment contract. If deemed necessary, the extension should then be set out in writing, which states:

  • the reasons for it
  • the matters which are to be tackled
  • setting targets
  • a revised probationary review date

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