The British labour market
Updated last year

As a job seeker in the United Kingdom, or if you are just curious about the available professional opportunities, the best thing to do is to explore the labour market and thoroughly and seek advice from expats. Learn about the various options and the most promising fields for expats.

The British job market

Major cities in the UK are currently enjoying a steadily growing economy. Following the 2007 economic crisis that significantly affected the country, pointers show that things are getting back in place with financial, tourism, retail, trade, and unexpectedly, the creative sector improving rapidly.

The flexible UK labour market has also contributed to the upward movement of the economy. Since employees' turnover is high, employment contracts are easily attained. Employees in the UK get noticed faster than those in other countries. However, it is as easy to get hired as fired in the UK. One of the best things to do is read your employment contract carefully, learn about employees rights, and never shy away from making your rights respected.

Good to know:

Some employment contracts include trial or probation periods during which both the employee and the employer can evaluate the employment agreement, especially if one party is not living up to expectations. The terms and condition of the trial period must be spelt out clearly in the contract. Usually, the trial period lasts for three to six months.

Regional employment in the UK

Due to its geographic situation, the distribution of labour is not homogeneous in the UK. It is easier to find a job in the south-east of England and other big cities across the UK than in other regions. It comes as no surprise that the widest range and most lucrative jobs are found in London. It is essential to critically research areas with the best job opportunities relating to your sector, keeping in mind the work-life balance, and your budget.


Good command of English is one of the most important requirements when searching for a job in the UK. Unskilled jobs, on the other hand, require just a basic knowledge of English.

Finding work in the UK

Since 1971, the UK has not reached the height of employment until now. Many employment opportunities available in large cities like London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

The best spot to start your job hunt is online. You can explore several job search platforms like Indeed, Monster, TopLanguage, Total jobs, etc.

It is essential to adapt your CV to the UK standards and make sure that your social media accounts, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, are up-to-date. Use your correct name and picture - remember that your online presence can increase your chances of landing a new job.

You can sign up for the UK National Employment Agency which provides support and career advice, as well as other services like CV editing. EU citizens can grab these benefits while searching for jobs.

Good to know:

Your language skills should not be confined to English alone. Your fluency in other languages can be a huge asset in some industries.

European Union (EU) citizens

If you are from the European Union, you can find useful information regarding job opportunities in the UK on European employment networks like EURES or other national employment agencies. You can also check out the Erasmus Plus program which is funded by the EU. This program aims at encouraging lifelong learning and assists European citizens in training, studying and volunteering in the EU-EEA region.


The above-mentioned information can be subject to change following the Brexit.

Non-EU citizens

To be able to work in the UK, you will need a work visa and for this you have to secure a work contract or job offer from a reputable British employer. The employer will be required to sponsor your work visa. If you are already living in the United Kingdom, the procedures relating to the work visa are less stressful.

Social Security (National Insurance) in the UK

Provided you earn more than the stipulated minimum wage, you are expected to make National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Foreigners moving to the UK also have to register for the National Insurance (NI) Number, even if their stay is temporary.

The amount of contributions you will be paying usually depends on your salary. In general, it is around 20% for emloyees (it is automatically deducted from their salary) and 20% of the profit for entrepreneurs.

In 2013, the British government has set up a new framework with several benefits including the Universal Credit System which can be claimed if you meet the requirements. For example, in the UK, the standard allowance for a person above 25 years is £317.28 with additional funds if you are eligible. Find more information on the UK Government site.

The work contract in the UK

Upon getting a new job in the UK, you will be required to sign a work contract. Make sure to read it thoroughly and note the following details:
The language the contract is written in: It must be written or translated clearly in English. This will be helpful in case the employee needs legal assistance while in the UK.
Probation period: the length and terms of the trial period must clear.
Contract duration: the contract duration must be noticeable especially when it has an ending date.
The salary: pay particular attention to the currency, the tax rate you will pay, and your negotiation power.
Attached benefits: It may include accommodation, air tickets, healthcare, or support for your children. Make sure that each of these benefits is stated clearly.
Termination notice period
Redundancy package

Salary and the Minimum Wage in the UK

Minimum wage is the UK correspond to different age groups. In details, it goes as follows:
£4.35 per hour for people under 18 years old
£6.15 per hour for people 18-20 years old
£7.70 per hour for people 21-24 years old
£8.21 per hour for people 25 years old and above
£3.90 per hour for an apprentice

The legal working schedule in the UK

The maximum working hours per week in the UK is 48 hours. Those aged 18 and below are only allowed to work 8 hours per day, and not more than 40 hours per week. Make sure that your contract states your working hours clearly.

Working conditions in the UK

All workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave (paid) on average, statutory sick leave, 52 weeks of maternity leave for mothers (receive payment for 39 weeks), paternity leave of one to two weeks and an addition 26 weeks if their partner resumes work before them.

An employee can ask for training and flexible working hours, even if employers don't always agree.

Employee rights are unique to each employee's contract and the surrounding circumstances. Find more information on the Citizen's Advice website.

Pensions in the UK

If you are working in the UK, you can start saving early for retirement. Saving can be done either via the state, the company you are working for, or a private pension scheme. However, expats are only eligible for the State pension after ten years of accumulated contributions. So whether or not you come from the EU-EEA, consider and discuss the pension options with your employer before signing.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.