Finding a job and Paying Tax

Looking for a job in a new country can be daunting. Yet there are many opportunities, if you have the right to work. All BN(O) status holders have the right to work and study in the UK.

National Insurance

The first thing you need to do is apply for a National Insurance (NI) number. National Insurance is the UK’s social security system, including the state pension scheme.

You can apply online, or you can call the National Insurance application line on 0800 141 2075 and ask for an application form.

When you receive the form, you will have to return it with proof of identity, and proof of your right to work in the UK. It can then take up to 8 weeks to receive your National Insurance number.

If you already have a job offer, you can start work before you receive the NI number, but you should apply as soon as possible.

For more information about applying for a NI number, visit the official Government website. 

Salaries and Minimum Wage

The average salary in the UK depends on which part of the country you’re in, and the type of work. There are minimum wage levels, required by law. These are updated every year. The National Minimum Wage is for people between school leaving age and 25. The National Living Wage is slightly higher, and is for people aged 25 and over. These apply to part-time and casual work as well as full-time employment.

In 2020-21, the National Minimum Wage is from £4.15 to £8.20 per hour, depending on your age. The National Living Wage is £8.72 per hour.

Here is a useful guide with more information about the minimum wage.

Income Tax

In the UK, you have to pay income tax on any earnings over £12,500 per year. Above that threshold, the amount of income tax depends on how much you earn. In most jobs, tax and National Insurance contributions are paid through your employer. This is called Pay As You Earn (PAYE). If you are self-employed, you will need to pay your income tax directly.

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the rate of income tax is 20% if your salary is between £12,500 and £50,000 per year. If your salary is higher, the rate of tax is 40% or more. In Scotland, the rates are similar, but there are more categories of tax rate

Employment laws and rights

When you start a new job, you should normally be given a contract to sign. This should have all the details of your working time, annual leave entitlement, and the notice period for terminating the contract.

Full-time jobs are usually for 35-40 hours per week. There is a maximum of 48 hours per week, although you can choose to work more hours if you wish.

Annual leave is a minimum of 28 days for full-time employees, including 8 days of public holidays.

If you are ill, you are entitled to sick leave. If you take sick leave for more than 7 days, you need to provide a note from your doctor (called a ‘sick note’ or ‘fit note’) to prove to your employer that you are ill.

There are some useful guides available on about UK employment contractsworking hours and holidays, and employment law.

Looking for a job

There are many ways to search for jobs. The UK Government has a “Find a job” service where you can search for different types of job in different cities or areas of the country, for England, Scotland and Wales. For Northern Ireland, you can search here.

There are many recruitment websites, including AdeccoMonsterReedTotalJobs, and others.

It’s worth setting up a profile on LinkedIn, if you don’t have one already, and use your network as much as possible to look for connections and jobs.

National newspapers such as The TimesThe Guardian and The Telegraph also have recruitment sections, especially for professional and graduate jobs.

Make sure your CV is up-to-date and prepared in the UK style. There’s a useful guide here about writing a British style CV.


To find out how your professional qualifications compare or can be transferred to the UK, check the UK NARIC (National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom) website. Depending on your professional field, you can apply for a Statement of Comparability, which you can use to show employers how your qualifications compare to the UK equivalents. This costs around £50.