Ukrainian migrant support hub

A gateway for Ukrainian migrants and those who support them to access information, events and services.
Шлюз для доступу до інформації, подій та послуг для українських мігрантів та тих, хто їх підтримує.

Work guide

Options for work
Choosing a career

There are lots of resources online that can help you think about what type of work you would like to move into. There are also organisations who can provide you advice if you prefer to talk through your options.

Where to get help
National Careers Service
Careers Advice
Getting into work

There are several options for making money – including getting a job from a company, working freelance or starting your own business. Whichever route you choose, a good level of English and digital skills is important in most jobs. You may want to consider how you can improve these areas whilst you find work.

1
Before you look for work
Ensure you have the right to work

Whether you want to get a job from a company, work freelance or start your own business, you must have a legal right to work.

If you’ve come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Family Scheme or Ukraine Extension Scheme you will have the right to work. There are other types of work visa that you may have come to the UK with that provide you with the right to work. You will be able to prove your right to work by showing them your Biometric Residence Permit or the visa in your passport.

Get a National Insurance number

A National Insurance number is provided to you by the government, and is used by your employer to ensure you are paying the right taxes. You will only get one of these, and it will never change. If you have a BRP card, you can check this to see if you have already been given a National Insurance number. If you haven’t, you should apply online via the government website.

How do I apply for a National Insurance number?
What should I do if I have lost my National Insurance number?
Arranging child care when you work

Finding child care for the hours you will be at work can be difficult. There is a range of government support that can help you with this. Depending on the type of work you are looking for, you may find that employers are willing to be flexible around your parenting responsibilities. When looking for jobs, you can ask the employer what flexibility they can provide, such as times when you need to drive your children to school, or the option to work from home.

Childcare

Both parents have responsibility to pay for the costs of having children, even if they are separated. Everyone is also entitled to a level of free support from the age of 2 from the government regardless of their immigration status.

When arranging child care you should try and plan ahead as far as possible. There is often a shortage of spaces, particularly during school holidays.

1
Find what financial support you’re entitled to

The level of free support you can access will depend on the age of your child, and whether you meet the eligibility requirements of the schemes available.

Support can include paying for nursery costs, holiday clubs, and after-school clubs. Financial support is generally only available from registered child care providers. If you have an informal arrangement, such as a relative who looks after your child, you may not be eligible for support with the cost of this.

The government provide an online tool that can help you understand what support you’re entitled to. You can also get a benefits check or advice from a free benefits advice organisation which will help you see what support you can get via the benefits system.

2
Find a child care solution
Pre-schools and playgroups

Pre-schools provide child care for 3-4 hours during school term time for children aged between 3 and 5.

Child minders

Child minders are usually self-employed people who provide child care for small groups of children, in their own home. You would typically be expected to drop your child off at their home, but some may be able drive them to or from school for you. If the child minder falls sick, it will be up to you to find alternative child care.

There are websites that can help you find suitable child minders – or you may be able to ask people you know for recommendations. When contacting child minders, you should check if they are registered, what is and isn’t included in their costs, and any polices they have around sickness.

Day nurseries / day care

Day nurseries provide child care and education to children up to the age they start primary school. They are usually open from 8am to 6pm on week days. They are often more expensive than child minders.

Nursery schools

Nursery schools provide early education to children between 3 and 5. They are usually free if they are attached to a primary school.

They are typically part of a primary school, and only open during school terms.

Wrap around / out of school care

Many schools provide child care before and after school starts. This may be a breakfast club where you can drop your child off around 8am, or after school clubs where your child can remain usually until around 6pm. There will be a cost for this, but you may be able to get support for this cost from the government. There may also be holiday schemes in place during school holidays.

You can ask your school what is available.

Help from a relative or close friend

You are allowed to leave your child with a relative. Unless they are a registered child care provider, you won’t be able to get financial support for this.

You may also be able to leave your child with a friend. You should be aware that if your child is under 8, they must be a registered child minder if you want to leave them for more than 2 hours during normal working hours.

Leaving your child at home alone

Depending on the age and maturity of your child, it may be OK to leave them in the house without any child care – particularly once they are a teenager. The law doesn’t set a minimum age for this, but it is against the law to leave them on their own if it would leave them at risk of harm.

3
Apply for any financial support and benefits

You can apply for support online.

Handling changes in circumstances

If anything changes, such as your income, employment situation, where you live or family situation, you should let the government know. For example, if you’re getting child care support via Universal Credit, you should let them as soon as possible. You can usually do this online.

Get your professional qualifications recognised

If you have a professional qualification at home, you will need to get this officially recognized to be able to use this in the UK. You can contact the CPQ who provide information and advice on what you need to do.

The ENIC provide a paid service in which they provide a statement of how your qualifications compare to UK equivalents. This may be useful to show to potential employers or professional bodies.

It may however be necessary to complete additional exams in the UK to practice your profession.

2
Look for suitable jobs

The majority of jobs are advertised online, and there are many different platforms you can check. You may want to set up alerts to receive emails when now jobs are posted.

What should I do if I don’t have internet access?

You can get access to a computer at your local Job Centre, or in other public places such as libraries.

Where to get help
Jobcentre Plus
Jobcentre Plus
Search for support options
Local Job Centre

Job Centres provide a range of free support to help you get into work, including advice for getting work and finding training opportunities, as well as access to computers and phones to search for and apply for jobs. They can also contact them about claiming benefits. Job Centres are provided by the government and all cities and most larger towns have a Job Centre.

Where to get help
Jobcentre Plus
Jobcentre Plus
Visiting a Job Centre

You can walk into any Job Centre without an appointment if you want to use their computers or phones for finding work. If you would like advice or support with finding work, you should contact your local centre first to make an appointment.

Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies work for companies to help them find the right people. If you contact an agency, they will try and match your skills and experience to the companies who they represent. You will not have to pay for this service, and you can contact multiple agencies.

1
Find an agency

You will need to find a suitable recruitment agency, who works in your area, and provides the kind of jobs you are looking for. Many work only within a specific industry, such as catering, or construction. Some will be open to people with no qualifications.

2
Contact the agency

You will usually contact the agency via their website. You may also be able to visit their local office. When you contact them, you should tell them the type of work you want to do, whether you are looking for full time or part-time work, and any qualifications and experience you have.

If they think they might be able to find work for you, they may ask for a CV or invite you in for an interview. When opportunities come up, they will contact you to check if you would like to apply for the specific job. You may then have to attend further interviews directly with the company before finding out if you are accepted.

Contact companies directly

You can also approach companies yourself that you think you may be suitable for, by sending an email, phoning or visiting in person. This can prove to be frustrating as many companies will simply say no, or say they will call you back, but won’t follow up. But if you are lucky, you might find work this way.

3
Apply

Every company will have its own process for how they choose new employees. Some will be very informal, and may simply decide to offer you a job after having a conversation with you over the phone. Most however will have a formal application process. The company will let you know what you need to do to apply when they advertise the job.

Employers may ask you to complete an application form, send them a CV or write a cover letter. There are many resources online that will give you guidance for how to do these. There are also organisations that can give you free practical support and advice.

Where to get help
Search for support options
Reference checks

You will often be asked in an application form to provide references from 2 previous employers. You only need to provide contact details – they will not want a general letter of recommendation that you have got from them.

References will usually only be contacted once they have decided they would like to employ you. They will typically ask them to confirm the information you’ve provided such as the dates you worked for them, and your role, as well as asking if they would have reasons not to employ you again.

What if don’t have a previous employer?

You can provide anyone who knows you well as a reference, even a friend. But it is much better to provide someone who has known you in a formal context, such as a teacher, mentor, religious leader, supervisor at a voluntary project or sports coach.

4
Interview

You may be invited to come in person for an interview, or be offered an interview online or over the phone. There are guides online that you can read to help you prepare. There are also organisations that can provide free coaching for you to give you the confidence for your interview.

You must be there in time for the interview – so plan to arrive before the time of your interview. It is a good idea to bring any proof of your right to work to an interview, as this may make the next steps faster if they decide to offer you a job.

Where to get help
Search for support options
5
Respond to their job offer

If the company would like to offer you a job, they will usually call or send an email. You may want to accept on the spot, or want some time to think. It is normal to ask for several days to decide if you need some time or are waiting to hear back from other interviews.

6
Employer checks

Your employer must check that you have the right to work before you they can hire you. You should be able to do this by showing your BRP card (or visa if appropriate).

Depending on the job, they may also be required to carry out a criminal record check (called a DBS). 

7
Sign a job contract

If you accept, you should be sent a job contract which outlines what your role is, the pay, hours of work, any benefits such as sick pay and holiday pay and the start date. If you are happy with the terms, you should sign the contract and return it to the company. 

Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship allows you to learn and develop your skills whilst working and earning money. You will spend part of your time in training. You will need to be over 16 and not in full time education. You can view the government website to learn more and find suitable opportunities.

Freelance / self-employment

If you have skills that are suitable for working freelance, such as translation, design, programming or construction, you can work for yourself. Finding regular customers can be difficult, but depending on the type of skills you have, there are online platforms such as Upwork where you may be able to get work.

It may also be possible to find regular employment with a company, and earn extra by doing occasional freelance work in your spare time.

You should consider that working out tax when freelance can be much more complicated than with regular employment. If you are only earning a very small amount, there is a tax-free allowance that you will not need to tell the government about. However, beyond this threshold, you will need to ensure you understand the tax rules and your obligations. A few charities exist who can give you advice, but many people will pay for accountants to help them.

Start your own business

If you have an idea for a business, the process to register a company and start trading is relatively easy and cheap. You should be aware that there are lots of responsibilities around tax and your legal responsibilities as a company director to consider. If this is something you want to consider, there are lots of guides and information online. Charities such as the Prince’s Trust provide support to young people wanting to start their own business.

Where to get help
Prince's Trust
Support For Starting A Business
Business Support Helpline (England)
Business Support Helpline For England
Skills for work
Learning English

English is the primary language of the UK, and it will be much harder to find work and navigate daily life without basic English skills.

There are many options for learning English – but the most common is to take ESOL classes. You can also find courses online, or use free apps such as Duolingo to help you build your skills. In many areas you may also find free conversation clubs where you’ll meet with others and get to practice your English skills.

Where to get help
ESOL Hub Birmingham
ESOL Hub
Search for support options
Adult education options

Any adult is able to study for the qualifications taught to children up to 18, or attend university. There are also many other courses and workshops that you can attend in your local area or complete online. This will include training for specific jobs, or general skills such as literacy, numeracy and using computers.

Volunteering

Doing unpaid work for a charity can be a very good way of building skills and confidence, whilst doing something meaningful. Having volunteering experience can be a big help in finding work, as you will seem hard-working and motivated to potential employers.

Getting paid & taxes

Your employer will usually pay you directly into your bank account on a monthly or weekly basis. Some will pay in cash, but this is rare.

Unless you are working on a self-employed / freelance basis, taxes and pension contribution payments will automatically be deducted from your pay.

Your employer will provide you with a payslip each time you get paid which shows you what you’ve been paid, and any taxes that have been deducted. You should check this to make sure you have been paid the right amount and there aren’t any deductions you were not expecting.

Paying tax

There are three main types of tax in the UK:

  • Council Tax, which is charged on the property you live in
  • Income Tax, which you will have to pay on income you get over your tax-free allowance
  • National Insurance, which you will pay if you have a job and work over the tax-free threshold.
Council tax

You’ll usually have to pay Council Tax on your property if you’re 18 or over. This tax is paid to the council, who will usually request payment for the annual amount in 10 monthly installments.

When you move in to a house, you should contact the council to let them know who is living in the property.

Check you're paying the right amount of Council Tax

In some situations the amount of Council Tax you need to pay is less. For example, if you're living on your own, or you're a student, or a carer lives in your home. These are called 'discounts and exemptions', and you can read about how they work in this Money Saving Expert guide.

You can apply for a discount or exemption directly through your council.

Council Tax discounts for people with a Homes for Ukraine visa

If everyone that lives in your house is on a Homes for Ukraine visa, you may be able to get a 50% discount on your Council Tax on the basis that holders of this visa are ‘disregarded’ for Council Tax. Some councils have information about this on their website, but not all of them do. If everyone in your house is on this visa but your council hasn’t given you this discount, contact them to ask for it. There’s more information about how what you can say to them here:

Handling changes in circumstances

If your situation changes such as moving house, or who you live with, or starting full-time education, you should contact your council to check that you're paying the correct amount of Council Tax.

If you're receiving Council Tax Support or Council Tax Reduction, you also need to tell the council about changes in your income, including changes to the welfare benefits you receive, as well as any changes to your employment status.

What happens if I don’t tell them?

You may miss out on a reduction to your Council Tax. If the change in your circumstances means that you need to pay more Council Tax, when the council find out you will have to pay them back for any amount. If they believe you have been intentionally dishonest, you could be in legal trouble.

How much do I need to pay?

The amount will depend on the value of your property, which is calculated by the council. You can find out on their website how much you should pay.

Can I reduce the amount of Council Tax I pay?

The council run different schemes that can reduce the amount of Council Tax you pay. You can apply for these directly yourself, or look for help from support organisations.

Council Tax Reduction

If you're on a low income or you're claiming certain benefits, you may be able to get your Council Tax bill reduced.

This is called 'Council Tax Reduction' or 'Council Tax Support'.

Where to get help
Birmingham City Council
Council Tax Support
Pay your Council Tax over 12 monthly instalments

Most people pay their yearly Council Tax bill over 10 monthly instalments. If you change this to be 12 monthly instalments, it will make the amount you pay each month a little smaller. You can ask your council how to do this.

Where to get help
Search for support options
What should I do if I can’t pay my Council Tax?

The first thing to do is to tell your council to say that you might miss a payment. If you do this, they may offer to let you pay late, or increase future payments to make up for a missed payment. In some cases you could get a reduction in the amount you have to pay.

If you don’t tell them, there can be serious consequences including the potential of going to prison.

Income tax

If you have formal employment, your employer will deduct the income tax you owe directly from your salary before you get paid. You will see this on your pay slips which they provide to you.

If you have casual employment, you’re self-employed or you have other income, you will need to keep records of everything you have earned. You should register for self-assessment tax via the government website, and submit your own tax return form after the end of the tax year (5th of April).

Self-assessment tax returns
How do I complete my self-assessment tax return?
1
Check if you need to submit a self-assessment tax return
2
Register for self-assessment tax

You will need to register yourself for self-assessment tax once the tax year has ended. The tax year ends on the 5th of April. You must register before the 5th of October. You can do this via the HMRC website. Once accepted, you will receive your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) in the post. This may take several weeks.

3
Submit your tax return

You can complete your tax return on the HMRC website once your registration has been accepted. The deadline is the 31st of January for the previous tax year. You should do this well in advance in case you have problems or need help. Once submitted, the HMRC website will tell you if you owe tax, and how much.

4
Pay for any tax due

If you owe any tax, you must pay this before the 31st of January. HMRC will have provided you with details of how to pay when you submitted your tax return.

National Insurance

You will need to pay National Insurance on any work you do over the current threshold. If you have formal employment, your employer will deduct the amount you owe directly from your salary before you get paid. You will see this on your pay slips which they provide to you.

If you are self-employed, you will need to pay this annually, as part of your self-assessment tax return.

Get a National Insurance number

A National Insurance number is provided to you by the government, and is used by your employer to ensure you are paying the right taxes. You will only get one of these, and it will never change. If you have a BRP card, you can check this to see if you have already been given a National Insurance number. If you haven’t, you should apply online via the government website.

How do I apply for a National Insurance number?
What should I do if I have lost my National Insurance number?
What if I have not been paid for all the hours I have done?

You should tell your employer first. There may have been an administrative error which they can fix. If they do not fix the issue, you can get free advice on what to do next.

Where to get help
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Helpline
What if I have not been paid on time?

You should tell your employer first. There may have been an administrative error which they can fix. If they do not fix the issue, you can get free advice on what to do next.

Where to get help
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Helpline
What if they’ve deducted money that I don’t agree with?

If you don’t understand why money has been deducted, you should ask your employer to explain the situation first. If they have taken money due to you damaging company property, the cost of your uniform or missing money from a cash register you should check your contract to ensure that you agreed to this. If you are unable to resolve the issue by talking to them, you can get free advice on what to do next.

Where to get help
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Helpline
Pension contributions

A pension is a way of saving money for when you are too old to work. Once money has been paid into a pension account, it will be difficult or often impossible to access it until you reach retirement age.

If you are in regular employment, your employer is required to arrange a pension scheme for you. Each month, a small amount of your pay will go into your pension. Your employer will also pay a small additional amount on top of this into your pension.

Do I have to pay?

You can choose to opt out, but this will mean your employer will no longer be able to pay towards your pension. In the long run, you will be worse off for not doing this. But if you are struggling with unmanageable debt and need the money now, opting out may make sense. You should get free debt advice before doing this. 

Where to get help
Search for support options
Your rights
Minimum wage

The UK has a legal minimum wage, which will depend on your age and whether you are working as an apprentice. You can check online for the current minimum wage, and the rules surrounding this. Some employers will try and pay you less than the minimum wage by not paying you for overtime hours, deducting money from your pay for your uniform or equipment, or claim that your tips count towards minimum wage. They cannot do these things – and if they have underpaid you, they will owe you for any money they have not paid in the past.

What should I do if I think I have been underpaid?

You can get free advice to understand if you have definitely been unpaid, and what you can do next.

Where to get help
Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service
Helpline
Working hours and breaks

If you work full time, it is normal to get a break between 30 minutes to 1 hour for lunch, as well as 2 short breaks in the day. Your employer will tell you what they allow and whether you will be paid for this time.

If you work over 6 hours, you have a legal right to a break. You have other rights if you work on irregular shift patterns.

Fair treatment

Your employer must ensure you are not discriminated against due to your race, religion, disability, sexuality, gender, age or whether you’re pregnant. If you believe the company or one of your colleagues has not acted appropriately, you should first raise the issue with your employer. They should have processes in place to handle these complaints.

If you are unable to find a solution, you can get free advice on what to do next.

Where to get help
Search for support options
Time off when having a baby

Depending on the type of employment contract you have, you may be entitled to 52 weeks time off and pay during this period. You may be able to share this time off between both parents.

Sick pay and holiday pay

Depending on the type of employment contract you have, you may be entitled to holiday pay and pay when you are sick.