Thursday, 18 September 2008

National Minimum Wage

The national minimum wage applies to nearly all workers and sets hourly rates below which pay must not be allowed to fall.
It is an important cornerstone of Government strategy aimed at providing employees with decent minimum standards and fairness in the workplace. It helps business by ensuring companies will be able to compete on the basis of quality of the goods and services they provide and not on low prices based predominantly on low rates of pay.
The rates set are based on the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission. The rates change on 1st October each year.
National Minimum Wage rates from 1 October 2007
Workers aged 22 and over - £5.52 per hour
Workers aged 18-21 - £4.60 per hour
Workers aged 16-17 - £3.40 per hour
Accommodation offset - £4.30 per day (£30.10 per week)
New National Minimum Wage rates from 1 October 2008
Workers aged 22 and over - £5.73 per hour
Workers aged 18-21 - £4.77 per hour
Workers aged 16-17 - £3.53 per hour
Accommodation offset - £4.46 per day (£31.22 per week)
To find out more:
see our revised National Minimum Wage Guide
read our information aimed at workers
view guidance specifically for employers
check or
For free confidential advice about the National Minimum Wage call the National Minimum Wage Helpline on 0845 6000 678. This is also the number to ring if you think you are being underpaid and wish to make a complaint. All complaints about underpayment of the National Minimum Wage are treated in the strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous if they wish to do so.
Proposed changes to how the National Minimum Wage is enforced are being taken forward by the Employment Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Subject to parliamentary approval, the Government intends the NMW provisions to come into force on 6 April 2009.

Who needs a work permit?

The following categories of people can take up any lawful employment in the UK and do not need a work permit:

Nationals of EEA (European Economic Area) countries (the EEA comprises the 25 EU member states - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic*, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary*, Ireland, Italy, Latvia*, Lithuania*, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland*, Portugal, Slovakia*, Slovenia*, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom – and also Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland)
Those with Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK (Permanent Residence)
Those in the UK as the spouse of an EEA national
Those in the UK as the spouse of a work permit holder, Training Permit Holder, Sole Representative, Investor, Student, ancestry visa holder
Commonwealth citizens with ancestry visas (sometimes called patriality) – these visas are available to Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK. They should be applied for by the candidate at the British High Commission in their home country. They are usually issued for a period of four years; after four years in the UK the candidate is generally eligible for permanent residence.
Those with pending claims for Asylum in the UK (NB does NOT handle asylum applications)
Those in the UK on a visa as the 'partner' of an EEA national, Work Permit holder, Training Permit Holder Sole Representative, Investor, Student, Ancestry visa holder. These visas are issued in cases where the partners are not legally allowed to marry (for example because they are of the same sex, or because one or both of them are married to someone else) and have been co-habiting for at least two years prior to the visa application
NB Nationals of those countries with a (*) above must apply for a registration certificate under the Worker Registration Scheme within one month of commencing a new job in the UK.

In addition to these categories of people, nationals of European Community Association Agreement countries (Bulgaria and Romania) may come to the UK to set up in business and are exempt from the usual investment requirements.

UK Work Permit Guide

The most important thing to understand in UK work permits is that in the UK the employer applies for the work permit and the the work permit is granted for a particular employee. If you are an individual hoping to work in the UK, you cannot apply for a work permit. If you have a work permit for the UK, you can't change jobs without getting a new work permit.

The following are the most-frequently viewed pages in this section, and may help you find the answers to your questions:

The difference between a Work Permit and a visa
Do I need to get a UK Work Permit?
Obtaining a UK Work Permit
Alternatives to the Work Permit scheme
Work Permit application form

In addition, the following important and useful information:

How long will it take to get an employee on-site with a UK Work Permit?
Information for recruitment companies
Work Permit Duration and extension of the Work Permit
How do I apply for a UK Work Permit
Entering the UK on a Work Permit
What Data and Documents do I need to get a UK Work Permit?
Consequences of illegal employment
Spouses and Dependents of UK Work Permit holders
Employers' Liabilities

UK Immigration and UK Visa Services

The UK has introduced a number of new UK immigration, naturalization, UK visa, work permit and UK working visa categories in the last few years. The points based skilled immigration category the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), introduced in January 2002, proved to be very successful.

However, the HSMP has been replaced by Tier 1 (General), part of the UK's new five-tier points based system which will encompass all work, study, and training immigration routes into the country. People seeking extensions to their HSMP visa are now required to extend their leave to remain under Tier 1 (General) for General Highly Skilled Migrants. Since April 2008, applicants located in India have been required to file initial highly skilled migrant applications under the Tier 1 (General) rules. This was followed by the rest of the world on 30 June 2008 as the Tier 1 (General) scheme fully replaced the HSMP.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Temporary Workers

While temporary workers benefit from many employment rights, they usually have different working rights from ordinary employees. If you are a temp it's important to know your rights and the rules about the way agencies should treat you.

The sector is growing all the time. 1.2 million temporary workers go out on an assignment in the UK in a typical week, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the professional body representing the recruitment industry in the UK.

What is a temporary worker?
Temporary workers work through an agency which finds them jobs. The firm that's hiring the worker pays a fee to the agency, and the agency pays the worker's wages.

There are several advantages to being a temp, including being able to work more flexibly and getting the opportunity to try out different kinds of work in a relatively short period of time. However, temps usually enjoy less job security than workers on permanent contracts.

As a temp, you are covered by the national minimum wage, working time legislation, health and safety and some social security provisions.

People coming to work in UK temporarily need to check whether they need a work permit and/or a visa to work. Workers from EU countries have more rights to live and work in the UK than those from elsewhere. You can check this on the UK Border Agency website

For details of agency standards and your rights go to the DirectGov and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, websites

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for better rights for temporary and casual staff.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Visa Informations for Students

The basic division is between European Economic Area citizens (European Union plus Iceland and Norway), people from other countries who do not need a visa to enter Britain (non-visa nationals), and people from countries who do need a visa before entering Britain (visa nationals).

The Home Office divides the categories as follows:

European Economic Area
If you are a national of a European Union country or are from Norway or Iceland you are free to enter the UK to study, live and work and you do not need a visa. European Union citizens face fierce competition from British students and also have to pay the same tuition fees of up to £1,000 a year depending on financial circumstances. Icelandic and Norwegian students have to pay full fees as international students, but do not need work visas and so can fund their course by working.

Non-visa Nationals:
Non-visa nationals are from countries that don’t require a visa to enter Britain, you can arrive with the necessary documentation and be issued the visa when you arrive. You need:

Proof that you have been accepted onto a full-time course at a UK school, college or university (totaling 15 or more hours a week).
A letter from your new school, college or university, on their official headed paper, to state that you have paid your deposit and/or your tuition fees.
Proof that you have the funds to pay for your study and living expenses. This could be in the form of travellers’ cheques in sufficient quantity to cover your expenses, a bank draft drawn on a UK bank, letters or bank documents from sponsors, or a combination of all these things. You will have to show that you will not have recourse to public funds that you can support yourself financially without relying on the British welfare state or by working to fund your studies.
If you are staying for longer than six months, your finances will be inspected much more rigorously. It is advisable to submit your documentation to the British Embassy/High Commission in your own country and get entry clearance (a visa) prior to arrival. Your status can still be challenged but you have the right to lodge an appeal and remain in Britain while your case is heard. If you were intending to be issued with a visa on arrival you could be sent back at your own expense. There are plenty of scare stories around, but this is unlikely to happen in practice unless you have done something that arouses suspicion. This might include travelling back and forth from Britain a number of times over a short period, appearing to have little money, or enrolling at a school with a reputation as a visa factory.

You can bring your partner/husband/ wife or children with you. However, they will require a separate student dependent visa, which they must obtain BEFORE they arrive (even though your own visa can be issued on arrival). To obtain this you will have to show that you can support them out of your own pocket. Remember that it can be very difficult to find accommodation for families and what there is tends to be expensive, so try and make arrangements before you arrive. Most universities can offer family accommodation, but space is limited. Be as organised in your arrangements as possible, as this will make you look more credible in the eyes of immigration officials.

You could also enter Britain as a tourist. In theory non-visa nationals can then apply to have it changed to a student visa without leaving the country as an in-country application. In practice this is not advisable as the immigration department is inherently suspicious of people who change the purpose of their stay while they are in Britain. You may succeed in getting your visa changed this way, but you will get a grilling in the process. Many people come to Britain on a tourist visa, and then look around for a school to enroll in. Be careful, because you could end up being deported if you are thought to have deliberately deceived the immigration department. The best thing to do is to apply for a prospective student visa in your home country. You will need to show that you have the finances to support your course and will be allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of six months.

Visa Nationals:
Visa nationals need to get a student visa from their nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission before arriving in Britain. In order to get this you will need to show the following:

Proof that you have been accepted for a full-time course (15 or more hours a week) at a reputable UK college or university. If it is at a language school it is preferable for it to be an ARELS or British Council accredited school.
A letter from your new school, college or university, on their official headed paper, to state that you have paid your deposit and/or tuition fees.
Proof that you have the funds to pay for your study and living expenses. This could be in the form of traveler’s cheques in sufficient quantity to cover your expenses, a bank draft drawn on a UK bank, letters or bank documents from sponsors, or a combination of all these things.
Immigration officials prefer a bank draft as this is the most difficult to forge and can be checked with the issuing bank. You will have to show that you will not have recourse to public funds. The longer your proposed stay, the more convincing your financial credentials will need to be.
You will need to get your visa, and bring it along with all the above documentation when you enter Britain, as immigration officials may wish to see on arrival. If you have been given entry clearance in your home country this is usually sufficient. However, your right of entry may be challenged if immigration officials believe that there has been a change of circumstances or you have not disclosed, or have hidden, some relevant information. In this situation, you have the right to remain in Britain while you lodge an appeal.

If you entered the UK as a tourist you will not be able to get your tourist visa changed to a student visa in Britain. You will have to leave the country, and re-apply for a student visa before re-entering.

Additional Regulations for international students (immigration, fees):

Address for the British Council:
Education Information Services
Information Services Management
The British Council
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Study abroad in the UK - How to go about applying

Before you Apply
English Language Proficiency
Are you sufficiently skilled in English to understand and participate in lectures, seminars, tutorials and examinations conducted in English to study in the UK? Do you have evidence of your written and spoken English language ability? Most institutions accept a number of qualifications as providing evidence of competence, including the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This is an internationally-recognised system for testing English language skills in listening, reading, writing and speaking. It is recognised by universities all over the world and can also be used to support visa applications. The main alternative is the American Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
If you consider that English may be an area of weakness for you, think about taking a pre-sessional course. This could be an English Language Teaching course in your own country, at one of the many recognised UK language schools or at a UK university.
Academic QualificationsBritish Higher Education is selective at the point of entry – do your current or expected qualifications meet the likely requirements? Your local British Council office may be able to advise you, but you could start by visiting the Council’s Education UK website at:
You should also spend some time exploring the UK Council for International Student Affairs website at:
Life in Britain
Gather information about living in Britain from friends, family, students returning from the UK, institutional information, websites and your local British Council Office. Although Great Britain is a small island, there are considerable variations in climate, surroundings, cost of living, and population. The cultural and social environment could be very different from what you are used to.
Are there any religious, cultural or social reasons, which may inhibit you from studying in the UK?
Do you know what to expect from the British weather? The climate in the UK is moderate: summers are fairly cool and winters are quite mild. Despite what you might have heard, British weather is not all rain and fog - it is actually more comfortable, more varied and more interesting than that. What you can look forward to in the way of rain, sun, temperature and even daylight depends on where you will be living. In general, the west is wetter and milder than the east, and northern areas are noticeably cooler than southern ones. For more information visit the websites at: or
Are you intending to take any or all of your family with you? Have you considered the practicalities of your family accompanying you such as; availability of facilities, extra cost, education provision for dependants, their language proficiency or immigration arrangements?
The British Council can offer detailed guidance on these issues.
Do you know what the likely costs are? Are you able to provide a financial guarantee of your ability to pay your costs for the full duration of the course? Do you know that living costs vary from region to region? What is the length of your proposed course?
Do you qualify and have you applied for any scholarships to fund your study? You must be able to finance both your tuition and living costs for the whole course, airfare, initial accommodation cost, appropriate seasonal clothing and study expenses – information is available from each university or college, your local British Council and recently returned students (through the Alumni Association)
This may be provided by your chosen institution or by family/friends. Is it guaranteed for the duration of the course?
How do I know which UK institutions offer recognised degrees?
The UK Government has an official list of institutions that can award recognised UK degrees.
Beyond that, as we have suggested earlier, the British Council office in your home country should be your first stop for information on studying and living in the UK. The British Council’s website at: provides a wealth of information for anyone considering the UK plus links to local British Council offices.
By spending some time researching online, you can obtain current information about the course(s) that you are interested in (syllabus, teaching and examination methods), about the institution(s) where courses are offered (region, location, size, and facilities), and about your future prospects on successful completion of the course.
Most of the main UK universities have an international office, which can help and advise you.
Making a decision about your preferred choice of course and a shortlist of universities or colleges is the first step, and you are now in a position to make your application.
How to apply
For undergraduate degree level courses, you must apply to universities through a central admissions system called the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). The UCAS website has information specifically for international students and you can apply online.
For other courses, check the institution's prospectus for the correct way to apply and the application deadlines.
After you apply
There is a lot to be done and if your arrival in Britain is to be trouble-free you must make many practical arrangements and preparation in advance. Seek advice as often as necessary, and allow plenty of time to make arrangements.
Immigration Regulations and Documents
Request information from the local British Government representative and seek advice from your local British Council Office. Find out which documents you need to obtain and how and where to get them.
You can find out whether or not you need a visa, and how to go about applying for one, by visiting the website at:
Check what your visa (if you need one) allows you to do. Can you work in the UK, either during your course or during the vacations, to supplement your income while you study?
Accommodation at your chosen institution
Request accommodation, if you need it, as early as early as possible.
What do the quoted costs include? Food, heating and lighting, linen, vacations? If meals are provided does this include weekends?
Take advice on how and when to travel to Britain, taking into account the start date and pre-sessional training if applicable.
Finally, book your tickets, but only once you are sure you have a firm place.
Original article by: Chris HudsonBrunel University

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