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Useful Information for working in Great Britain (The UK)

Guideline information. Check with UK authorities for recent changes

Starting your Job
All you need to legally start work is proof of identity and your right to work in the EU, usually your passport. You can bring your social security number too but it is not required in law.
You will need a UK bank account as most employers will pay monthly by direct bank credit, you can do this during your first week. You will also need a National Insurance number; this takes several weeks and is not an immediate requirement.

Opening a Bank Account
You will need:
Letter from your employer.
Proof of identity (usually passport).
Ask your employer if they can recommend a local bank.

National Health Service
Illness or accident - you are covered for treatment with UK doctors and in UK hospitals.
Special medical needs - we recommend you consult with your own doctor before making a commitment.
Dental treatment - difficult to obtain under the NHS. Emergency treatment is available at hospitals but get a check-up at home.

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The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount per hour that most workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. HMRC national minimum wage pages.

Income Tax www.hmrc.gov.uk/
Income tax is deducted from your earnings.

Emergency Tax
When you first start your job you will not have an N.I. number and you will not have a tax reference in the UK. Until you get one your employer will deduct tax from the whole amount of your earnings without any personal allowance made at all. That applies the same to UK staff. You get the overpaid tax back eventually.

Since tax and other contributions are deducted directly from pay, at the end of your work contract you may be entitled to rebates. Remember it is much easier to deal with these matters before you leave the UK.

National Insurance (N.I.)
N.I. is deducted from your earnings.

Getting N.I. Number
You can start your job without an N.I. number but the sooner you get one the sooner your tax deductions will reduce.

You will need:
Appointment with local Benefits office (can't be done by post).
Letter from your employer.
Proof of identity (usually passport).

You will complete paperwork at the Benefits Office and then it will take about 6 weeks to get registered into the UK system. Your tax code should be corrected within about 3 months and overpaid tax will be refunded to you.

Accommodation
If you have accommodation provided with your job it will usually be your own room with shared facilities in staff accommodation, either on the premises where you work or nearby. Accommodation is usually basic but you will have laundry and cooking facilities although meals are normally provided on duty, sometimes off duty too. Bed linen is provided.

If you do not have accommodation with your job (rarely available in London or other large cities), bedsits or shared flats are the most economical option to get started.
Accommodation is expensive in London, less in other parts of the country.

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Holiday entitlement
If you work full time you are entitled to four weeks paid holiday per year; so for example if you have a one year contract and work five days per week, you are entitled to 20 days holiday. If you have not taken all the holidays that you are entitled to when your employment ends, your employer must pay you for the days that you have not taken.

Telephones & Internet Access
Cell phones are cheaply available, pre-paid, better value than using your current phone on GSM (you get charged to receive calls). Some hotels allow staff internet access but most don't. Cyber cafes or local libraries provide cheap and easy access.

Electricity
240 volts standard but you will need adaptor to fit UK 3-pin plug socket.

Climate
Summer temperature can rise to 30 C, Winter can fall to -10 C. Averages throughout year are 10 - 22 C, fairly mild but wet. Residential properties are rarely air conditioned and sometimes not well insulated.

Measurements
Weights and measures are still shown both metric and old UK imperial format. 1 mile = 1500 metres, 1Kg = 2.2 lbs, 1Ltr = 1.75 pints.

Working Hours
Long hours & Split shifts are normal in the UK Hospitality Industry.

Settling in
It might take a while to settle in to things. Different hours, equipment, working methods, transport, area, weather etc can all affect how quickly you start to feel at home. You may not get on with a work colleague or even your boss.

If you experience difficulties related to your work, always first discuss the problems with your supervisors or the staff representative. If still no solution is found, you can contact: The Citizens' Advice Bureau provides free, confidential and impartial advice. They can help you solve problems including debt, housing, legal matters and employment matters. Citizens' Advice Bureaux are in most towns. You can find them in the local telephone directory, or visit: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Other Useful contacts:

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Useful Information for working in Norway

Guideline information. Check with authorities for recent changes

Employment contract

You should always have an employment contract whether your post is regular or temporary. Make sure to check out all terms and conditions applying to the job. Make sure you fully understand what the contract stipulates. Find out how and how often you will be paid, study the terms for giving notice and other points which are relevant to your work. You should also check who will be covering costs such as transport and housing, you or your employer.

Regular positions normally start with a trial period, which is confirmed in a written contract. The length of the trial period must be agreed in advance, maximum duration is six months. During this period the contract may be terminated by you or your employer at 14 days notice.

A tax card based on your 'D' or 'ID' number is obtained from the local tax office (ligningskontoret). You must present the tax card to your employer. If you fail to do so, your employer is obliged by law to withhold 50% of your wages in tax.

If you experience difficulties related to your work, always first discuss the problems with your supervisors. If in vain, you may talk to the safety deputy (verneombud), the staff representative (tillitsvalgt) or the union. If still no solution is found, you can contact The Directorate of Labour Inspection (Arbeidstilsynet) for help.

Working hours in Norway are up to 40 hours per week, i.e. an average of eight hours in five days. Shift workers have somewhat fewer weekly hours. Most offices have working hours from 8 am to 4 pm. Industrial workers usually start at 7 am, some start at 9.

Work in excess of 40 hours a week is considered overtime which is payable by at least plus 40% when imposed on the employee. However, there is no legal requirement for overtime pay for personnel in senior positions.

Norway has a "working environment act" regarding rights and duties of employees and employers. The purpose of the act is to protect employees against physical or mental injury, and provide for an acceptable working environment and safe and healthy working conditions for all. The act has been translated into English and is for sale in bookstores throughout the country.

How much pay you receive is determined by the wage agreements made between the labour and management organisations or by special working agreements. In Norway there is a law concerning wage agreement: LOV OM ALLMENNGJØRING AV TARIFFAVTALER. When your wages are paid you will receive a wage slip (LØNNSSLIP) containing earnings and the deductions which have been made in accordance with the scale on your tax card and other deductions to be (e.g. child contributions).

Taxation

In Norway, both direct and indirect taxes apply. Income tax (tax on income earned) and property tax (tax on assets owned; house, car, money in the bank) are direct taxes. Taxes are payable both to the local and central government bodies, plus membership fee to the social insurance system (folketrygden). The most important indirect tax is the value added tax (merverdiavgift) of 24 per cent on most goods and services. Avoidance of paying value added tax where applicable will be prosecuted.

If you reside in Norway for less than six months, special tax rules apply. Your local tax office will provide further information.

Norway has executed bilateral tax agreements with the other EEA countries to avoid double taxation. The tax system is comprehensive. Before deciding to relocate, talk to the tax authorities in your home country or the local Norwegian tax office where you are moving to, in order to sort out your personal tax situation. From Norwegian tax offices you can each year obtain a small booklet on taxes ("Hva blir skatten"). It is printed in Norwegian only.

The employer is obliged to deduct tax from your salary before paying it to you. Your local tax office in Norway will on your request issue a tax card, which you should hand over to your employer as soon as you find work, otherwise your employer is obliged to deduct 50 per cent tax. This is normally more than you would pay based on your tax card, the excess will be repaid to you the following year.

In Norway, tax is paid on income of the current year, i.e. deductions from your salary is based on an estimate of how much you will be owing. By 30th of April each year you must file a tax return. Filing deadline for self-employed is the 28th of February.

Your tax is calculated based on information given on your tax return. The tax return form is mailed to you each year in January. You will also receive a salary account from your employer. The account describes in detail how much you have been paid, possible other benefits, what is paid as membership fee to your union and group pension insurance plus gives an account of the deducted tax payment. You need this information when completing your tax return.

With the tax return form you also receive a booklet in Norwegian with guide-lines for completing the tax return form. Provided there is sufficient capacity, the local tax office may offer assistance the first time you fill in a tax return form.

Foreigners with temporary stay in Norway can demand a standard contribution of 15% (10% from tax year 2006) of gross earned income on their tax return.

More about taxes and special allowances for foreigners

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National Insurance

Everybody working or living in Norway is a member of the National Insurance Scheme (FOLKETRYGDEN). People who are working (employees and self-employed) pay together with the direct taxes a premium, which is a certain percentage of their gross income) to this social security system. Non-working persons do not pay, but still have basic security-rights. This is also the case for members of your closest dependent family.

The system includes:

Residence Registration (N.I. Number)

Living and working in Norway you must register at the municipal registration office (FOLKEREGISTER). Here you will obtain an 11-digit personal number (your birthdate and a 5-digit code, called PERSONNUMMER).

Bring these essential documents

Finishing work: tax and other rebates
Since in Norway tax and other contributions are deducted directly from pay, at the end of your work contract you may be entitled to rebates. Remember it is much easier to deal with these matters before you leave Norway.

Useful Links:

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Geography

Norway stretches out 1750 km between the 58th and 71st degree north. It is a country of long distances. Imagine an axis at the southern tip of the country and turn it around 180 degrees on the map, the opposite end would reach as far south as central Italy. At its widest, the country measures 420 km from east to west, at its most narrow only 6 km.

Total area is 387 000 square kilometres, the seventh largest country in Europe, with borders to Sweden, Finland and Russia and with an exceptionally long coastline dotted with approximately 50 000 islands of which only 2000 are inhabited.

Norway is a mountainous country. From the inland mountains and mountain plateaus the landscape falls sharply toward the coast. The western parts are characterised by steep mountains and deep valleys while changing gradually into wide valleys and rolling hills in the eastern parts. In the west you will find the fjords cutting deep into the country; these are in fact sub-sea extensions of the valleys. Furthermore, one fourth of the country is woodlands, and approximately 4 per cent is cultivated soil.

The islands Svalbard and Jan Mayen also belong to Norway.

Climate

A combination of humid, mild, western winds and the warming Gulf stream produces a much milder climate than would otherwise be expected in a country this far north. There are great climatic variations, in Karasjok in Finnmark temperatures may drop to minus 30 - 50 degrees Celsius during the winter and reach plus 30 degrees Celsius in the summer. In the west, winters are mild with average temperatures of about plus 1-2 degrees, while inland temperatures vary a great deal.

There are distinct climatic differences between coastal and inland regions. All along the central parts of southern Norway, mountain ranges serve as weather shields resulting in abundant precipitation to the west and a drier climate to the east. North of the Arctic Circle, in the "Land of the midnight sun", the sun never sets during summer and the rest of the country only has about 2 - 3 hours of darkness through the night in June and July. Winters, however, are long lasting with limited daylight.

Languages

The country has two official languages which are quite similar. The principal language is "Bokmål". It has developed from dialects spoken in the cities and is influenced by Danish. "Nynorsk", the other language, is strongly influenced by dialects spoken in the districts. Approximately 16 per cent of the young attend schools where nynorsk is the primary language.

Usually, knowledge of the Norwegian language is a prerequisite for obtaining a job in Norway. However for certain categories within the technical sector and some positions in the hotel and restaurant industry good command of English may suffice.

If you have obtained a job offer in Norway, you are entitled to free Norwegian language tuition offered by the municipal authorities. Further information about Norwegian courses (number of classes offered, when they start, etc.) is obtained from the municipality where you reside.

Living Costs

It must be mentioned that living expenses in Norway are significantly higher than the European average though to some extent this is neutralized by higher wages/salaries.

Expenses for housing, for food like meat and sausages as well as some vegetables and fruits and for luxury goods like alcohol, tobacco and some cosmetics may seem especially high.

There are many reasons why housing in Norway is expensive both to buy and to live in. First, the building has to be well insulated and have heating in all the rooms on account of the climate. Secondly, people have high standards for their housing, so that very few simple, cheap houses are built. Finally, wages are high so labour is expensive and construction costs are high.

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International Hotel Kitchens & Restaurants

Most hotels & restaurants' kitchens around the world will work within the following style of job titles within the kitchen brigade. This terminology has been used, internationally for well over a hundred years.

When someone joins a kitchen from catering college or gymnasium they will normally have had 2 to 3 years education and some practical experience for a few months. The first positions that they will be offered is called:

1.COMMIS CHEF
1st Commis & 2nd Commis: The first position that is given to someone entering the kitchen of medium to a large brigade is 2nd commis. This allows the senior chefs in the kitchen to get a better understanding of the person's abilities. They are more then likely going to start work in the vegetable section or cold larder to gain speed of knife work and basic skills. They will then be moved into the other sections of the kitchen and spend time in the meat, fish, sauce and pastry departments as 1st commis chef. After 1 to or 2 years, depending on their abilities, they are likely to be promoted to Demi Chef de Partie.

2.DEMI CHEF DE PARTIE
As with the above-mentioned commis chef, this position will allow each person to move around the different sections, with the possibility of focusing on the sections that each person feels stronger in. If the person is wishing to focus on the pastry section they will normally be placed in this department and allowed to develop there, without going into the other parts of the kitchen. Each Demi Chef de Partie will go around the different sections, but with additional responsibilities in their job. For example, they will be encouraged to help in the training of the commis chefs as well as seeing that the food sent to the customer, from their section, is to the standard as laid down by the senior chefs. From this position, their next move is up to:

3.CHEF DE PARTIE. (Section Chef)
This title is for someone who is in charge of a specific section of the kitchen. They can have one or two Demi Chefs, plus 3 or 4 commis, (and in some kitchens apprentice chefs,) working for them and there are normally be two of these teams working in each section(partie) to cover the shifts in the working week. Most chef de partie's specialise in their own favorite section of the kitchen. A Chef de Partie is a team leader, guiding and controlling their specific section of the kitchen.

4.SOUS CHEFS
Sous chefs run the kitchen on a day-to-day basis. They are normally given three different titles within this one job category.

A. Junior Sous Chef They look after and supervise a number of sections of a kitchen or in the case of a restaurant within a hotel they could be in control of that kitchen brigade.

B. Sous Chef Will look after an entire kitchen, be this a restaurant kitchen or a special kitchen, for example the banqueting kitchen.

C. Senior Sous Chef Will over-see the other Sous Chefs, handle the working rota's of the different departments and assist with the menu planning, food and provision ordering and take over the head chef duties, in his or her absence.

HEAD CHEF
In most kitchens the head chef is a person who runs the entire kitchen. (In some kitchens the head chef is called the Chef de Cuisine) Not only does he or she look after the day-to-day management of the department but is also in charge of the financial side of the business. In very large kitchens the head chef will have a senior chef whom they report to. This is the Executive Chef.

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