The UK has one of the largest economies in the world, and a relatively low level of unemployment and high average income when compared to many other countries in Europe and beyond.
The UK economy is based heavily on the service industry, particularly financial services and London is often considered as the world financial services capital. London is also at the centre of many other industries in the UK, including the growing tech and creative sectors.
Other UK cities are likely to offer fewer opportunities in some specialist industries although you will probably find a more relaxed working culture than in London. The JOBS page for each city shows the key industries.
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Key differences someone from another European country may notice include:
- The vast majority of employment in the UK is on a permanent contract basis;
- Working conditions in the UK are often more flexible, e.g. flexible working hours;
- Holidays are taken throughout the year rather than focused in August;
- In office jobs it is not so common to take a fixed lunch break;
- It is common for colleagues to go to the pub after work, usually on Thursday or Friday.
Working income is subject to a minimum wage and deductions for Income Tax and National Insurance. The UK minimum wage is £6.19/hr (> 21 years), £4.98/hr (18-20 years) or £3.68/hr (< 18 years). Income Tax is charged on earnings above a minimum threshold (~£8,000) at a rates of: 20% on earnings up to £34,370; 40% on earnings from £34,371 to £150,000; 50% on earnings over £150,000. National Insurance (NI) is charged at 12% of weekly earnings between £146 and £817 and 2% thereafter. [2012 data]
Workers rights in the UK are represented by trade unions and specific employment legislation. Trade union membership and contributions are voluntary and companies are not required to employ specific employee or union representatives. Legislation against discrimination based on age, sex, race and other factors is strong and applies to recruitment as well as the broader work environment.
Starting a business in the UK is considerably easier in the UK than in many other European countries due to the simple administration and scalable tax and VAT requirements.