I’m expanding my business from Australia and I’m hiring or moving people to the UK. What do I need to think about?

Aussie startup companies expanding to the UK and hiring people on the ground or moving people to the UK tend to, roughly, try and provide a similar level of benefits when it comes to benefits like superannuation (pensions), and leave.

Noting that we are not specialist people advisers, here’s some things you’ll need to consider

What to think about


If you’re hiring directly in the UK, your wages and benefits should be determined by the local market.  

If you have people moving from Australia to the UK, as the cost of living is currently higher in Australia than in the UK, along with higher wages, there’s an argument to be made that the salaries should be adjusted downwards, except perhaps in London.  In practice though this is hard to do.  Aussies moving to the UK, and staying on a roughly equivalent UK salary will broadly be more comfortable.  Of course, they will also initially be incurring some setup costs, subject to how the company is supporting these.


like superannuation

In Australia, the mandatory superannuation rate is 11.0.% on top of your base salary for 2023-24, rising to 11.5% in 2024-25, and maxing out to a 12.0% contribution in 2025-26.

In the UK, employees are required to initially be auto-enrolled into a pension scheme but can then opt-out, trading off increased cash in hand vs saving for their retirement.  The level of the pension is required to be a minimum of 8% of the base salary, with employees contributing 5% and employers contributing 3%.  If an employee opts out, the employer does not need to contribute.

Pensions are paid directly to a pension provider (like a super fund in Australia) each time your pay is processed.  The minimum pension contribution is typically processed through the Nest and People's Choice pension schemes. 

The rate is obviously lower than the superannuation rate in Australia, and includes a contribution from the employee so this may affect salary package discussions.

More info on how pensions work here.

Annual Leave

In Australia, employees are typically provided 20 days annual leave, in addition to being paid on public holidays.  Annual leave is accrued, and used over time and any annual leave balance is paid out when an employee leaves the company.

In the UK, you’re legally required to provide 28 days leave but this includes the public holidays (called bank holidays in the UK).  You’re not specifically required to pay people for public holidays, but in practice most people are in fact paid on the public holiday, with the remainder as annual leave.

With about 8 bank holidays in the UK in practice, therefore, this is similar to Australia with 20 days “real” annual leave + public holidays.

Note that it is not uncommon to see 25 days of annual leave + public holidays being offered to employees

Personal or Sick Leave

In Australia, employees are typically provided 10 days personal leave, accrued and used over time.  Unused leave is not paid out.  The primary purposes of personal leave is for when an employee is personally sick but many companies have policies that extend the use of personal leave to include other circumstances such as care for family, bereavement and even to support study or community service involvement.

In the UK there are two key factors in determining what happens when your staff are sick: 

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): This is the legal obligation for any employer in the UK who has PAYE (payrolled) staff. SSP is paid at £109.40 for illness between 4 days and 28 weeks. As an employer you must declare the value of an SSP paid during a payroll period. 

Occupational or Company Sick Pay (OSP): Is what you may choose to put in an employment contract over and above SSP. There are no legal obligations beyond SSP, but once agreed in company policy or employment contracts, this becomes the employees contractual right to sick pay. Most Australian companies default to providing the same benefits as in Australia - ie 10 days paid sick leave.