Recruiting in the UK – by Laurence Parry
1. What are the steps to recruit in the UK for a foreign company?
Laurence: The steps are the same for foreign and British companies. The company must start by writing a job offer and must specify what are the job tasks they are looking for and be as precise as possible about them.
As an example, the French companies emphasize the diplomas or studies whilst in the UK, they are more based on skills. We can see this especially in jobs such as logistics and accounting. For example, in France, professionals in logistics will generally have a diploma based on the industry they want to work in, whilst in the UK, the people working in logistics will usually have experience in the matter already, and will then eventually decide if they want to pass a professional diploma in supply chain later in their career. This explains why the employer should be open to all types of candidate profiles instead of only looking for a specific degree.
It is preferable for a company who doesn’t know the market to go through a recruitment agency, which will give advice on the different profiles, the salary and the processes. The agency will post the job offers on different platforms and job boards, and there will be a preselection made according to the expectations of the company. The agency will then have a first interview and will send the resumes of the selected candidates to the company, who will then have meetings with the selection. It is a real time saver during the recruitment process for the company. The agency may also deal with salary negotiation.
2. What would be the tips you would give foreign companies to recruit in the UK?
Laurence: One of the best options is to establish a local employment contract, as the local employer tax (National Insurance Employer) is quite low at 13.8% compared to other countries like France. The acas.org.uk website gives you all the information you need in order to write a contract of employment in the UK.
The company can then go through an “umbrella company”, which will be the intermediary for local salaries and taxes, or create a subsidiary.
Legally, the paid holidays in the UK are 20 days minimum + 8 bank holidays, but the average is mostly between 23 and 25 days by year + bank holidays.
A recruitment agency will be able to advise the company on market salaries, or you can use salary calculators on internet which will give you an idea on what to expect for a certain job. The salary also depends on the area: a salary in London will not be the same as one in another part of the UK. It is also important to think about the additional costs such as a company car or mandatory pension contribution. All these advantages aren’t taxed the same way, which is why it is best to seek advice from an accountant or solicitor.
The diploma obtained has an impact in the UK, however the level is very different than in France for example. Few people have a Master’s degree, they mostly have a Bachelor’s and easily start work after that. Some jobs ask for a Master’s degree, but they stay rare. French people don’t really have an advantage in having a Master’s level, their real advantage being language since it is easier to find a French speaking fluently English rather than the contrary. The number of years of studies will therefore not be asked in a job offer; it would mostly be a level that is asked such as “Educated to Degree Level”.
In the description of the job offer, it is also required not to use certain adjectives such as “dynamic” (which can mean “young”), since that could sound discriminatory. However, you can ask for example “French native level” as a language requirement, but that does not exclude accents.
Regarding employment law, it is better to refer to the Acas website, talk to a solicitor or accountant for relevant information, even if a payslip is easier to do in the UK than in France.
3. What are the current consequences of Brexit on the recruitment of foreign companies in the UK?
Laurence: Foreign companies continue to develop their activities in the UK, and there hasn’t really been a downturn during the last 3 years. The real challenge is to find the right candidates.
One of the issues which slows down the recruitment in the UK who wish to employ francophones as an example is the bad communication about Brexit. Brexit restraines the arrival of Europeans and especially French who think they will be welcomed badly, who don’t know what their legal status will be, if they would need a visa or not. A lot of Europeans have left the country, the currency is low so it’s better to go and work in a Euro zone country, but French mostly went home because they are scared that they won’t find a suitable job, as well as they are scared of commitment. It has been approximately 3 years since we have noticed that less candidates arrive in the country.
There is a certain number of companies who look for francophones because of the importance of having a contact who can communicate in French, for example for the relations with the French head offices, or for the commercial development of British companies in francophone countries.
When there won’t be any free movement, this will bring restrictions: the UK government published a White Paper last year which suggests conditions for the welcome of foreign workers (there will be no more difference between European claimants and those from the rest of the world): the candidate will need at least its A levels, as well as a certain age, employers will have to ask for a license which will have to be renewed every year and visa costs will be potentially important. There is also the proposition of a temporary visa for one year but it will not open the right to the pre-settlement visa, which will force the owners to go back to their countries at the expiry of the visa, and won’t be able to come back in the United Kingdom to work for at least 2 years, which would start at the end of 2020.
A real consequence on our market is the fact that the recruitments take more time, the appropriate candidates become harder to find, and there is less choice on the profiles desired.
Laurence Parry has been the Director of French Resources for 10 years, independent bilingual recruitment company, where consultants have more than 25 years of experience in human resources in the United Kingdom.
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