Moving to a new country can be a whirlwind experience, with so many different issues to consider. To help with that process, below are ten key points relating to your employment if you are thinking of, or are in the process of, moving to the UK to work.
Ensure Your Contract of Employment Is Comprehensive
- Most employees are legally entitled to a written statement of the main terms and conditions of employment within two calendar months before starting work. This should include details of things like pay, holidays and working hours.
When moving to the UK, you should seek to finalise all contractual terms before you agree to move. It is important to try to agree on practical terms such as rental costs, travel allowances, children’s education – and to have them all set out in your contract of employment.
- Your contract should also set out what will happen when your contract terminates. Will you return to your home country and have all relocation costs covered? Will you return to your previous job? Will you be made redundant? This should be carefully considered and clearly set out in your contract of employment.
- As some legal protections in the UK only arise when an employee has at least 2 years of continuous employment, it is important to ensure when moving to the UK that you focus on how long your employment will be regarded as continuous (consider adding your service with the company outside the UK to the period that will start in the UK) and have it clarified in the contract. What the contract says on this point is not necessarily going to be accepted by the UK courts, but it will help.
Agree Upon an Appropriate Notice Period
- Employers usually must give employees at least the notice stated in the contract of employment (the “contractual notice”) or the legal minimum notice period, whichever is the longer. The legal minimum notice required to dismiss is:
- One week if the employee has been employed between one month and two years
- One week for each complete year of employment up to a maximum of twelve weeks
For example, for three years of continuous employment, the notice period will be three weeks.
A senior employee would normally expect the contractual notice to be not less than three months. That is especially the case if the employee is moving to the UK and will need some degree of certainty.
Understand Your Protection from Dismissal
- An employer can only dismiss an employee without notice when something has happened that it considers gross misconduct – usually an incident that is so serious that there is no way the employment can continue, such as theft, fraud or violence.
- As well as a potential claim for notice if dismissed by the employer, an employee will have a potential protection against “unfair dismissal” – a claim set out in the UK employment legislation. An employee needs to have two complete and continuous years of service with their employer before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal.
- An employee will be unfairly dismissed unless they have been dismissed for a fair reason and after a fair procedure. Potentially fair reasons to dismiss include redundancy, capability, and conduct. Compensation for claims for unfair dismissal is capped at a year’s salary or approximately £87,000, whichever is lower.
- For some claims, there is no requirement to have a minimum of two years of service, for example, dismissal due to whistleblowing or discrimination. The UK laws on whistleblowing and discrimination are complex but are widely used.
Understand How Taxation Works
- Employees must pay tax on their income and it is deducted at source by the employer. Income includes wages, benefits, pension, and savings interest. Most individuals are required to file a tax return each year. Please see this link to view the UK’s current tax rates and bands.
When employment comes to an end, a termination payment can be tax-free up to £30,000 in some circumstances – we would advise you consult a tax professional at the time.
Understand Your Right to Bring Legal Proceedings
- Legal proceedings for contractual notice and other contractual rights can be pursued in the UK’s civil courts. However, most UK employment claims are brought in the Employment Tribunal. And be aware, time limits in the Employment Tribunal to initiate claims are limited. For example, any claim for unfair dismissal must be brought within three months from the last date of employment.
Slater and Gordon