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Employment contract in UK

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Many people from all around the world every year decide to leave their homeland and move to England to create a better future. Often, however, many of us travel without really knowing what to expect from the new English work experience.

In this article you will find a list of the conditions an English employment contract must have, to be sure that your rights (the same as an English one) are not violated.

Let’s start with the essential information. The English employment contract, to be valid, must necessarily state the name of the employer, his address, and the name of the employee. Other information are detailed below:

The salary

By law, workers in England must receive at least a minimum pay per hour, called the minimum wage. It varies according to your age:

  • Apprentice: £ 4.15 per hour;
  • Up to the age of 18: £ 4.55 per hour;
  • From 18 to 20 years: £ 6.45 per hour;
  • Ages 21 to 24: £ 8.20 per hour.

From the age of 25, we no longer speak of minimum wage but of national living wage, which currently corresponds to £ 8.72 per hour. There is also a living wage, currently equivalent to £ 10.75 for London and £ 9.30 for the rest of the UK. Living wage is established by the Living Wage Foundation, which calculates the cost of living in the United Kingdom and based on this determines how much a person must be paid to live properly. It is the only pay that makes a distinction between the cost of living in the capital and the rest of the country, but unlike the minimum wage and national living wage, employers are not required to respect it.

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The minimum wage is updated every April. You can view a table with all the information on the minimum wage on this site.

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In England you will be paid according to your position (team leader, manager, CEO etc.), but you will not be guaranteed a minimum wage depending on the level of your job, as is the case of many European countries. Take for example the position of Store Manager in London: a Google search suggests that the pay is around £ 28,000 per year. It is therefore very likely that, in case you receive an offer for a similar job, your annual salary is around that amount, but keep in mind that nothing prevents the company from paying you less.

The method of payment varies greatly depending on the job: it can be weekly, biweekly or monthly, paid by bank transfer or in cash (more rarely). Most people have an employment contract with an annual wage, while others, especially in the retail sector, are paid by the hour and the worker receives a paycheck (paper or electronic) at the end of the month with the number of hours worked listed, the salary and taxes deducted (those who earn less than £ 12,500 per year – for the year 2020-2021 are exempt from taxes).

If you work with targets (very used in sales and recruitment), you will receive a fixed minimum wage every month, plus commissions if you reach your target.

In England several companies award workers with a bonus towards the end of the year.

Dipendenti di una azienda in ufficio

Type of employment contract

There are several contracts in England if you are an employee. Your contract can be:

  • Temporary contract: temporary contract, often used for seasonal jobs, for example during the Christmas holidays, when shops need more staff. It is possible that, once the holiday period is over, you are offered a permanent position;
  • Fixed term contract: fixed-term contract, similar to temporary contracts, in which the start and end date of the work must be clearly indicated;
  • Permanent contract: it is a permanent contract with no end specified;
  • Zero Hour contract: zero hour contract, which does not guarantee a regular job with a fixed number of hours per week. The employer asks you for shifts and you can accept or reject.
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If you decide to work on your own (self employed or freelance), you will have to declare your business and pay the taxes yourself.

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Sick pay

By law, the employer must pay you from the fourth day of illness. Often you get paid from the first day, but nothing forces your employer to do so. Those who earn a minimum of £ 112 gross per week are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), an aid from the British government, which corresponds to around £ 88 per week. If you are absent from work for several weeks, you can request Housing Benefits.


The employer must clearly specify how many days per year of holidays you are entitled. By law, the days must be at least 28, and may or may not include the eight bank holidays. If you are required to work during a bank holiday you will be entitled to a replacement day off, called in lieu. In many companies the number of days allowed increases with years of experience.

Trial period

The contract must also specify the length of your trial period and its conditions. You are very likely to be asked to complete a trial period (typically one to six months) before being officially hired. During the trial period, the notice to be fired or to resign is shorter: in general, a week in advance, instead of a month, is sufficient to resign. It is also important to point out that, during the trial period, the employer can decide not to hire you or terminate your contract for any reason, without you being able to dispute.

In the case of dismissal once the trial period has passed, it is imperative to ask your employer what the reason for this decision is. If you believe that your actions have not gone against what your contract states, you will be entitled to an appeal that will allow you to contest your dismissal before it takes effect.

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Once your new position is accepted, your employer has three months to give you a copy of your employment contract. Read your contract carefully, and make sure you can do everything that is required, since once the contract has been signed, everything that is required, and which is part of your job, cannot be contested. For example, if you perform a typical 9-5 job but you are asked to work a night shift, as per the contract you signed, you will not be able to refuse to take your shift.

Do you know the differences between English and other national contracts? Share your work experience in England with us!

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