Working in Shetland
For general information about finding a job in Shetland, please see the current vacancies page on this website.
Whether or not you can settle and work in Shetland, or elsewhere in the UK, depends largely on where you come from. For example, workers from the European Union are entitled to live and work in the UK. There is helpful information on the UK government’s website, for instance, for people from Commonwealth countries who have UK ancestry.
For a helpful guide to the documents you may need before moving to, or working in, the UK, please visit this page provided by HM Revenue and Customs.
It is possible that you may be able to claim some state benefits, depending on your circumstances. For information about whether or not you qualify, this UK government website is useful. At the moment, the general rule is that if you have come to Scotland and are not working (even if you are from the European Economic Area) you should be able to support yourself without having to claim public funds. However, the European Union is currently challenging the UK government’s rules on the grounds that they are not compatible with European law. For more information see www.scotland.org or this page on the DirectGov website.
Everyone who works in the UK needs to have a National Insurance (NI) number. If you already have a job, or are actively looking for employment in Shetland, you will need to apply. You, or your employer, should telephone the Lerwick Jobcentre Plus office (+44 (0)345 604 3719) to arrange an appointment for an interview (contact details below). The interview takes about forty minutes and a National Insurance number will be allocated within three or four weeks. If you need to take someone with you as an interpreter, you can do so, or a telephone interpreter can be provided. There’s more information about National Insurance here.
For certain jobs (or certain kinds of voluntary work), you may need to have a criminal records check. This is carried out by Disclosure Scotland and you need to apply for a certificate. There’s more information here.
Once you have a job, you’ll normally be paid monthly, but some people may be paid every week. Workers in Scotland must be paid at least the legal National Minimum Wage. Income Tax and National Insurance payments will be taken directly from your wages and your employer should give you a statement showing how much you’ve been paid and how much has been deducted. However, not all of your wages are ‘taxable’. Everyone is allowed to earn a certain amount of money before any tax need be paid. There’s more about income tax and national insurance here.
If you are working five days a week, you must be given a minimum of 28 days’ paid holiday. If you work less than five days a week, the amount of holiday will be reduced pro rata, for example 22.4 days for someone working four days a week.
The law protects you from discrimination by employers on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion or beliefs.
There’s a useful guide to your rights at work here. If you have any difficulty, you may want to contact the Shetland Citizen’s Advice Bureau.