Guide to hiring employees in the United Kingdom

Everything you need to know when expanding your UK workforce

Aerial view of the tower bridge of London
Source: Shutterstock/ Ingus Kruklitis


According to The Global City, the UK is a ‘global centre of academic excellence.’ 58.5% of the UK’s workforce are educated to at least a degree level making it one of the most skilled workforces in the world.

Capital London
Languages spoken English
Population size 67.22 million
Payroll frequency Monthly
Currency Pound Sterling (GBP)
VAT 20% for most goods and services

Taxes in the UK

Employer contributions in the UK

The pension scheme is one of most commonly provided contribution to an employee’s salary in the United Kingdom.

  • Different employers have different pension schemes so the percentage of employer contributions can vary, but 3% is the minimum employers have to pay.

  • All employers must offer a workplace pension scheme by law. You, your employer and the government pay into your pension.

Employee taxes in the UK 

  • The UK basic income tax rate is 20%.

  • The deductions include National Insurance, Income Tax and Pension.

Minimum wage in the United Kingdom

As of April 1st 2022, the UK has increased the national minimum wage by 6.9% from £8.91 to £9.50. The UK government have said that this is the biggest ever cash increase to the minimum wage.

• The rates change on April 1st every year

Employee Benefits in the UK

UK employers are legally obligated to provide their employees with certain basic rights and support. However, they are encouraged to develop additional policies that go beyond these fundamental requirements.

Mandatory benefits in the UK:

  • Pension
  • Healthcare
  • Holiday pay
  • Maternity/paternity pay
  • Sick pay

Supplementary benefits in the UK:

  • Life assurance
  • Dental insurance 
  • Private medical insurance
  • Income protection (long-term disability)
  • Health cash plan

When thinking about which optional benefits to implement, consider them from the perspective of your staff. Thinking about what is most meaningful to their needs and how you can help them at every stage of growth helps you understand what they need from you.
This will not only result in more loyal and productive employees, but it will also help you retain them and positively impact your bottom line.

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Types of leave available in the UK

All employees in the UK are entitled to a certain number of leave requirements including annual leave, sick leave, maternity, and paternity leave.

Annual Leave

Most workers in the UK who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days paid annual leave a year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday.

  •  An employer can include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) does not affect workers’ entitlement to holiday pay and leave, except for carrying over leave.

UK public holidays

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Early May Bank Holiday

Sick Leave

  • Employees in the UK can get £99.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are deemed too ill to work.

  • It's paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks.

  • If an employee in the UK has been ill for more than 7 days in a row, they must give their employer a 'fit note' (sometimes called a 'sick note')

  • If an employee is on sick leave, they can usually build up four weeks' statutory paid holiday time

Maternity Leave

When an employee takes time off to have a baby, they might be eligible for:

  • Statutory Maternity Leave (52 weeks)
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Paid time off for antenatal care
  • Extra help from the government (Universal Credit, Child benefit, Child Tax Credit)

Employees rights are protected while on Statutory Maternity Leave, including their right to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build up (accrue) holiday
  • Return to work

Paternity leave

If an employee takes time off because their partner is having a baby (including adoption or surrogacy), they might be eligible several rights such as:

  • Paternity pay
  • 1-2 weeks paid paternity leave
  • Shared parental leave and pay

Employees rights are protected while on paternity leave, including their right to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build up (accrue) holiday
  • Return to work

Employees in the UK can be given time off to accompany their partner (or the surrogate mother) to 2 antenatal appointments.

If an employee is adopting a child, they can get time off to attend 2 adoption appointments after they have been matched with a child.

Attracting UK talent

As competition increases and hybrid working becomes more available, an employer must consider how this new post-covid world can impact a potential employee’s decision to consider an office-based job.

According to travel figures compiled by Google’s Mobility report, going back into the office is less popular in the United Kingdom than anywhere else in Europe. A portion of bosses in the UK much prefer their employees to work within sight because in their perspective, their staff are much more productive that way. Some employers also believe that it is much harder to be collaborative and creative with their staff over a video call versus an in-person meeting.

However, many UK employees argue that they can get much more work done at home due to the lack of office related distractions such as chatting with other colleagues and the high-volume level of general office noise.

Here are some of the ways businesses can attract top talent in the UK:

Implement policies that promote work-life balance

In a recent survey by Glassdoor, 52% of employees in Britain admit that they do not have a good work-life balance. This is due to their work regularly eating into their personal lives outside of work.

66% of Brits want to actively improve their work-life balance since the pandemic began and are looking for their employers to improve the balance.

Due to Covid-19, 35% of respondents believe that a healthy balance of work and life is not possible to fulfil in their current roles. Lockdowns have heavily impacted employees opinions around this subject so this is something that an employer should heavily consider.

Upskilling and reskilling

Due to the pandemic making changes to the way that people work, and how fast technology and innovation is advancing, the UK as a collective have reassessed the skills employees need to thrive in the workplace. The UK has turned its focus to skills development.

According to PwC, 79% of CEO’s regularly worry about the skills that their workforce possesses. According to the L&D Global Sentiment Survey, it was topped by reskilling and upskilling for the second year in a row.

Career growth opportunities

Job seekers who are high performers and talented are always keen on learning new things, so they're always interested in joining organisations where there are opportunities for career growth.

Whether these opportunities take the form of mentorships or professional development plans, business should focus on providing candidates with clear information about potential career pathways within the company.

uk meeting

Termination of employment in the UK

In the UK, termination of employment is known as ‘dismissal’. An employer in the UK does not always have to give an employee notice. If an employee is dismissed, the employer must show that they have:

  • A valid reason that they can justify the dismissal
  • Acted reasonably in the circumstances

Furthermore, an employer must:

  • Be consistent i.e. not dismiss an employee for something they let other employees do
  • Have made a full investigation before dismissing the employee – for example if a complaint was made about the employee

Both fixed-time and part-time workers cannot be treated less favourably than full-time employees.

Notice Period

In the UK, an employee must be given a notice period before their employment ends. Here are the statutory redundancy notice periods for employees:

  • 12 week’s notice if employed for 12 years or more
  • At least one week’s notice if employed between 1 month and 2 years
  • One week’s notice for each year if employed between 2 and 12 years

As well as the redundancy pay, an employer should either:

  • Pay an employee through their notice period
  • Pay the employee in lieu of notice depending on their circumstances

Severance Pay

If an employee in the UK has worked at a company for 2 years or more, they should receive:

  • Half a week’s pay for each full year they were under 22
  • One week’s pay for each full year they were 22 or older, but under 41
  • One and a half’s week’s pay for each full year they were 41 or older

If an employee is eligible, they can receive statutory redundancy pay if they have been temporarily laid off. This can be for either:

  • More than 4 weeks in a row
  • More than 6 consecutive weeks in a 13 week period

An employee is not entitled to statutory redundancy pay if:

  • Their employer offers to keep them on
  • Their employer offers them a suitable alternative work that they refuse without good reason

Probation Period

In the UK, the most common length for a probation period is either 3 months or 6 months. These are the most common types:

  • 3-month probation period: this is typically used for entry-level employees in roles where little or no previous experience is required

  • 6-month probation: this is typically used for more senior positions where more significant experience is required.

  • Longer than 6 months: this is rare as probation periods do not usually last longer than 6 months. Having one this long can be considered unreasonable without justification.

If an employee fails to meet a companies’ standards or is guilty of misconduct/poor performance, there are a few options to consider before dismissal. One of which being an extension of the probation period with an outlined list of improvements for the employee to meet.

If they at the end still fail to meet these requirements, dismissal is an option.

What are my options for hiring in the UK?

For businesses that want to hire team members in the UK, Airswift provides a variety of employment solutions that make it easy for you to hire employees efficiently and within full compliance with the local laws.

Our expertise allows us to minimise risk while bearing the administrative responsibilities of hiring and onboarding high-quality candidates while you focus on growing your business.

Hiring options businesses can explore include:


Talent acquisition

Work with an in-country talent acquisition specialist to source high-quality candidates in a competitive landscape.

 Our contract hire services can help you fill temporary roles and provide your business with the agility to respond to shifts in needs and market demand.

For long-term hiring needs, Airswift’s professional search can help you discover talented UK candidates for permanent roles within your business.


Employer of Record

For businesses that want to hire remote employees without setting up a physical entity, an Employer of Record simplifies the process of hiring in the UK with minimal compromise on time and expense.

An experienced Employer of Record lets you bypass the complications of physical entity setup and focus on growing your business. Tasks an EOR can help you manage include overseeing locally compliant payroll and managing statutory benefits.


Learn how Airswift can help you hire employees in the UK

Enquire about our services

Although the information provided has been produced from sources believed to be reliable, Airswift makes no warranties, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, or reliability of any information herein. Accordingly, there shall be no liability attached to use of the information herein, howsoever arising. For the latest information and specific queries regarding particular cases, please contact our team.

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