Everything an Antipodean Needs to Know about Working in the UK

Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by The Career GuideNo comments

A different experience is all part of the grand adventure of packing your bags and flying to the other side of the world for work. Working in the UK is enticing because the language and some cultural elements are the same, but there’s still something fresh and exciting about a different approach—it’s different enough. But when it comes to working in London and shaping your career here, how exactly is it different? As one of the best recruitment agencies for Aussies and Kiwis working in London, we’ve got you covered.

Workplace cultural differences

Typically speaking, Antipodeans are better at managing a healthy work-life balance compared to the Brits, and this is particularly true in London offices. However, since Covid, this does seem to be improving somewhat.

You may expect a blurred line between work and play in social terms, but this very much depends on the individual office culture in the UK. Do expect a longer commute—London is a huge city! Also, expect more obvious hierarchies in the workplace, as opposed to the flatter management structures that Australian organisations tend to have.

The UK generally has broadly similar workplace policies. The Brits get more basic annual leave, with 28 days per year (for a full-time employee).

Where can you live?

Nearly 20% of the UK employed population is not native-born. You will be far from alone working in London as a non-Brit. Indeed, London is even more multicultural than the rest of the country. This has the added benefit of different accommodation options.

Most people moving to London choose to rent. You can rent privately from a landlord, or you can “club together” with others to share the costs in a shared property. Alternatively, you can lodge in an individual’s private home, where you get a room and access to some cooking facilities.

Buying property in England is notoriously difficult and something that those working in London only consider a few years down the line.

Insurance and health

When you apply for your visa, you should add on the additional payment that means you get to use the National Health Service (NHS). Even if you choose to use private health insurance, which you may wish to do in order to dodge very long NHS waiting times for non-emergent conditions, all emergency healthcare in the UK is provided under the NHS, so you need to have this covered. You will almost certainly need to pay privately for dental treatment. NHS dental treatment is notoriously difficult to access, even for Brits (and still comes with costs)! You need to apply for a National Insurance number to get free NHS care.

You must have car insurance on any vehicle you drive or own (unless you declare it off-the-road).

Bank account

Setting up a UK bank account without a UK address is tricky, but you will need one. Speak to your home bank before you arrive here to see if they have a reciprocal arrangement with a UK bank. Alternatively, until you have the required documents (like 3-month-old utility bills), you may need to set up an international bank account with a UK bank, which will incur a monthly fee. Then, when you have all the documentation, you can change to a UK current account.

Paying tax

Your visa will require you to work for an employer or through a recruitment agency. The good news is that for both of these processes you can simply pay tax through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) with the tax and National Insurance deducted directly from your pay cheque.

Income tax in Australia is higher than in the UK, but Medicare payments are lower. The UK uses National Insurance to cover NHS and social care costs (as well as state pensions). Altogether, your UK income tax burden is therefore likely to be slightly higher. The difference between the UK and NZ system is very minimal in total income-related tax expenditure.

Do you need help?

What you can do to help yourself prepare to work in the UK is to choose one of the best recruitment agencies in London—an agency that specialises in supporting non-UK individuals. We’re here to help.


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