Country Employment Information

EAPM guide to working in the UK

Who can work in the UK?


European citizens
Citizens of the UK, Switzerland and the following countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) ( ) have the right to work in the UK:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.
Croatians ( ) must obtain permission to work in the UK (these restrictions apply until June 2018).
Non-EEA citizens
Citizens who do not have the right to live in the UK will need a visa to work here. They can check whether they need a visa using this tool ( Some commonwealth ( ) citizens will not require visas to work in the UK.
Non-EEA employees, who do not already have the right to work in the UK, will need to be sponsored ( ) by a licensed employer. A sponsorship certificate entitles the employee to apply to the Home Office for a visa to work in the UK.
Most sponsored employees will enter the UK either under Tier 2 (general) ( ) or Tier 5 (temporary worker) ( ) of the UK’s points-based immigration system.
Proving a right to work
Knowingly employing migrant workers illegally is a criminal offence in the UK, and inadvertently employing an illegal migrant is subject to an on-the-spot civil penalty of up to £20,000 (
Employers must check a specified list of documents ( to establish an employee’s right to work.
Employers and employees can find whether someone has the right to work in the UK, and which documents are required to prove this, by using this tool ( ).
Intra-company transfers
Employers wishing to transfer staff working outside the UK, who do not already have the right to work here, can use the sponsorship system to obtain a work visa for the transferee ( ). Transfers can be for long-term or short-term staff, graduate trainees, or to transfer skills
DBS checks
Employees working in the UK with vulnerable groups, such as children, must have their suitability for the role checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (
Employment: employee rights
Those working in the UK have different employment rights according to their employment status ( ). They can be defined under UK employment law as a worker, an employee, self-employed or a contractor.
Workers ( ) are entitled to receive the national minimum wage ( ) (currently £6.31 an hour for those aged 21 and over), a statutory minimum level of paid holiday (currently 5.6 weeks a year), minimum rest breaks, a working week not longer than 48 hours on average (they can opt out of this right), protection against unlawful discrimination and detrimental treatment from their employer for reporting corporate wrongdoing (whistleblowing), and protection against being treated less favourably for working part-time. They may also qualify for statutory maternity pay, ordinary paternity pay, and sick pay.
Employees ( ) are entitled to all workers’ rights and additionally are protected against being dismissed unfairly, and to receive statutory redundancy pay, after two years in a job. They also have the right to request to work flexibly, and to time off for emergencies.
Employees and workers who believe their employment rights have been breached by their employer can make a claim to an employment tribunal ( for a fee (an unfair dismissal claim costs £250 to issue, and £950 to be heard by a tribunal) although claimants may qualify for a fee remission. Appeals are heard in an employment appeal tribunal initially and further appeals can be made through the mainstream court system up to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Employment: employer responsibilities
All UK employees have an employment contract with their employer ( ), setting out the terms under which work is performed. A contract can be spoken or in writting and can contain both express and implied terms. Employees are entitled to receive a ‘written statement of particulars’ ( ), specifying the key details of the job, if their contract lasts a month or more.
Employers may be required to negotiate employment terms and conditions where they recognise a trade union for these purposes ( ).
National insurance
Employers have to pay a national insurance contribution ( ), and deduct a contribution from pay, for all employees earning more than £153 a week.
Income tax


UK employees pay tax ( ) on earned income, most pensions, job benefits, company shares dividends, interest on savings and so on. Most are allowed to earn a certain amount before paying tax, referred to as a personal allowance ( ). The personal allowance ( ) for the tax year 2014/15 is £10,000 for those born after 5 April 1948 earning up to £100,000 per year.
Employment status may not necessarily match a person’s status for paying tax. Employers can use this tool ( ) to determine the nature of the employment for tax purposes.
Health and safety
UK employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees ( ) and others who may be affected by their business, and are required to carry out risk assessments in the workplace.