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Work practices and benefits

Learn about working practices in Scotland and benefits that you may be entitled to depending on your circumstances. Get guidance on employee benefits and pensions, sick pay, maternity pay, paid holidays, income tax, and national insurance.

Employee benefits and pensions

Life never stays the same. Whether it’s changes to your health, to your family or when you get ready to retire, Scotland takes care of you.

When you work in Scotland you may be entitled to employee benefits depending on your individual circumstances. Benefits are likely to include leave from work, sick pay, maternity pay and a pension.

If you become ill and cannot work for more than four days in a row, but less than 28 weeks, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.

If you’re pregnant, you may be eligible for maternity pay from your employer. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) allows you to take time off work both before and after your baby is born.

SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks from when you take leave from your job. You and your employer may agree other terms, but this is not required by law. Your partner is also entitled to up to two weeks of paternity leave — in addition to another 26 weeks if you decide to return to work early.

If you're eligible, the government will pay you a State Pension when you reach the national retirement age – normally between 60 and 65 years old. This is a weekly payment.

However, the amount you’re eligible for depends on the number of years you've paid National Insurance from your salary in the UK.

Annual leave and bank holidays

We know all work and no play is boring — and bad for you. So, your hard work in Scotland is rewarded with a generous amount of paid holiday from your job to enjoy. You deserve it.

These holidays, also known as annual leave, are calculated according to the number of days you work. If you work full time, five days a week, you’re normally entitled to at least 28 days of paid (statutory) holiday each year. Some companies offer even more than 28 days.

If you work part time, you are also entitled to paid holiday each year. You can calculate the holidays you’re entitled to by multiplying the number of days you work by 5.6. For example, if you work three days a week, you’re entitled to 16.8 days paid holiday each year.

Public and bank holidays

Many organisations in Scotland close for public and bank holidays. While it’s not compulsory for employers to give you paid leave on a public or bank holiday, many do as an added incentive.

There are currently nine public and bank holidays in Scotland each year, usually on a Monday. Some of these are different to the rest of the UK. They include:

  • New Year's Day (January)
  • 2 January
  • Good Friday (April)
  • Early May Bank Holiday (May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday (May/June)
  • Summer Bank Holiday (August)
  • St Andrew's Day (November)
  • Christmas Day (December)
  • Boxing Day (December)

Calculate your holiday entitlement opens in a new window on GOV.UK.

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Income Tax and National Insurance

We all contribute tax to make our communities in Scotland better. It’s worth it.

Everyone who works in Scotland pays tax from their earnings for the public services provided by the government. In the most cases, your employer automatically deducts Personal Income Tax and National Insurance (NI) from your weekly or monthly salary.

The amount you pay depends on a number of factors including how much you earn in one year. All EU countries have agreements to ensure people are not taxed twice on the same income.

After you arrive in Scotland, contact the nearest HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) office to let them know you're working for a company in Scotland. If you're self-employed, you must register with HMRC to ensure you pay the correct amount of tax at the right time.

National Insurance (NI) tax helps pay for social security benefits such as free healthcare, sick and maternity pay. The amount of NI you pay depends on how much you earn and whether you work for a company or are self-employed.

After you arrive in Scotland you need to apply for a National Insurance number from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It'll be used as a unique reference for your UK tax and National Insurance contributions. Once you have your number, you must also give it to your employer.