Request a ProposalDownloadShare

UK Recruiting & Hiring

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Whether you choose to recruit for your business domestically or hire abroad in the United Kingdom, the process of growing your team can be a complex one. Before you begin expanding your company, you need to learn about the recruitment process and employment laws in the UK to make sure you remain compliant every step of the way.

Recruiting Top Talent in the United Kingdom

After Brexit, the UK is experiencing a shortage of skills among workers, which can make it hard to find the right talent for open positions. This means it’s more important than ever to understand what prospects expect to see from a potential employer and follow the correct cultural norms for recruiting. Understanding the British traits and customs below can help ensure a smooth recruitment process.

1. Use Less Direct Communication

While people in countries such as the U.S. and France often use direct language in business, interviewers in the UK tend to use less direct phrasing. To-the-point communication can turn potential candidates off.

2. Avoid Personal Questions

Small talk about a candidate’s personal life won’t earn you any points while recruiting. British people value privacy and avoid answering personal questions that could seem inappropriate. Also, having candidates include a photo on their CV is unusual and frowned upon.

3. Rely on Traditional Correspondence

Most employers rely on phone and email correspondence to communicate with potential candidates.

4. Use the Newspaper to Advertise Positions

Local newspapers have a wide reader base in the United Kingdom, so it can pay to advertise your open positions in the classifieds. Almost all major cities and counties have local papers, so you can target potential candidates in a specific area.

The Recruitment Process in the United Kingdom

This country has robust recruiting laws, especially related to direct and indirect discrimination. You cannot make hiring decisions based on a candidate’s sex, race, age, ethnicity, or disability.

Some of the common laws related to discrimination and recruitment follow:

  • Use phrases such as “recent graduate” or “highly experienced” only when they are true job requirements.
  • Don’t ask about “protected characteristics” such as relationship status or children.
  • Ask for someone’s date of birth only if they must be a certain age to work, such as in positions that involve selling alcohol.
  • Don’t use membership in a trade union as a deciding factor in whether to hire someone.
  • Treat people with disabilities more favorably only when both a person with disabilities and a person without disabilities meet the job requirements.

Legal Checks You Can Make on Employees

One of your priorities during the recruitment process is ensuring that your candidate has the legal right to work in the country. Since Brexit, European Union (EU) citizens and their families must apply for settled status to work in the country. You are legally allowed to and should check this status before offering someone a position.

You are allowed to request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for an applicant, and some roles, like health care and child care, may allow for more detailed checks. However, make sure you’re eligible to request a criminal record, and remember that you can’t refuse employment because of a prior conviction.

Finally, you can ask candidates for a health check only if it’s a legal requirement for the job, such as an eye test for a commercial vehicle driver. In some cases, the job itself may require this check if an insurer asks for it.

Working With a Recruitment Agency

You can handle staffing your United Kingdom business by yourself or work with a recruitment agency. If you use an agency that finds staff and pays those individuals, they are known as employment businesses. In those instances, your employment business must make sure workers meet the appropriate working time and minimum wage laws.

If you’re in the agriculture, food processing, horticultural, or shellfish-gathering industries, you can work with an agency known as a “gangmaster.” However, make sure the agency is licensed to handle the United Kingdom’s staffing and recruiting tasks.

How Do You Hire UK Employees?

Embarking on the hiring process without additional support means you must find time to seek out talented new employees and onboard them as official employees of your company. Once you find the perfect candidate, you need to write up an employment contract within two months of their start date that outlines key terms of the arrangement. This contract should focus on compensation, job title, work hours, holidays, sick days, pension plans, and a notice period for termination.

You also need to ensure compliance with UK employment laws through the right payroll and taxation systems. The hiring process involves complying with the Real Time Information (RTI) system and reporting all relevant payroll information to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

What Laws About Employment Exist in the UK?

As mentioned above, drafting an employment contract is legally required when you hire UK employees. You should also remain aware of other employment laws, including EU data protection — the legal requirement to keep your employees’ personal data secure. This directive plays a role in how you can transfer information about your employee between the U.S. and the UK.

You can mitigate many UK employment compliance concerns by drafting a strong employment contract. Ideally, this contract will cover the days employees will work, time off work, sick leave, and termination of employment.

How Do You Onboard UK Employees?

The hiring process doesn’t end when the employment contract is signed. You also need a streamlined process to onboard your new employees while staying within UK employment compliance.

One of the most important onboarding processes involves setting up an employee payroll system. You’ll need certain pieces of information from your employees, including their national insurance number and tax code. You’ll then need to register every new employee with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

What Is the Benefit of UK Hiring Outsourcing?

When you’re considering how to hire UK employees, it pays — in both time and money — to work with a UK hiring outsourcing company such as Globalization Partners. If you choose to work without a global PEO, you will need to establish a subsidiary before you can even begin the hiring process. This can take months, causing you to potentially lose valuable talent.

We take the stress out of meeting UK employment compliance by placing the burden on our shoulders. We hire employees on your behalf through our subsidiary that works in accordance with UK employment law. Contact us today to learn more.

Download this content in PDF