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Tech Career Insights: London: City Guide for Software Developers
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London: City Guide for Software Developers

By Simone Markham

If you’re thinking about living and working in London, here’s a software developer guide on tech companies, lifestyle and UK work visa.

London: City Guide for Software Developers

Lifestyle

Software engineers thinking about moving to London will never lack something to do. In addition to the countless parks, art galleries, museums and historical sites spread across the city, London is also renowned for its live theatre and music festivals. Visiting all of these sites is easy thanks to the city’s highly efficient public transport system, which means that you don’t have to own a car to make the most of the London sites.

The city is also relatively safe, ranking 15th in the world, according to the 2021 Safe Cities Index.

Tech companies and startups in London

With a burgeoning tech scene and a supportive business environment, it’s no surprise that some of the world’s tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Oracle and Amazon, as well as various home-grown startups like DeepMind, Shazam and Revolut, have established office centres in London.

If you want to be in the centre of the tech scene, London’s Silicon Roundabout – dubbed Tech City – is the place to be. This cluster of startups and high tech companies is located around East London’s Old Street roundabout, hence the nickname. While there’s no denying that Tech City has been hard hit by Brexit and the pandemic, which pushed many brands to abandon their offices and embrace remote work, London remains one of the top cities for tech innovation. The city’s vibrant startup scene is proof of this. According to a 2021 Startup Ecosystem report, London and New York were found to have the second best startup ecosystems in the world.

Why do so many entrepreneurs choose London? Three reasons: taxes, support and talent. While there is no difference between the taxes paid by startups and larger businesses, the government offers a number of tax deductions for startups to significantly reduce their tax burden. In line with this, the government has also created various tax incentives for investors to invest in local startups.

Tech industries to watch

Here are some of the city’s most prominent industries:

Fintech: With a wealth of financial-services heritage and progressive policy-makers who support fintech innovation, London has become a global centre for fintech businesses.

Cybersecurity: Given the booming fintech industry, it’s unsurprising that cybersecurity is a growing sector in London. According to the City of London, the UK cyber security market is the largest, most concentrated and most accessible cyber market in Europe, worth almost £8.3bn.

Healthcare: The medtech industry in the United Kingdom has expanded significantly in recent years, with different accelerators and programmes in place to spur the development of pioneering diagnostic tools and innovative medical devices.

Blockchain: London has a growing blockchain ecosystem, appearing on the top of lists for blockchain employment opportunities. In fact, Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland account for more investment in blockchain technology than the rest of Europe combined.

Working in London

The opportunities for tech talent to make an impact in the city are endless. According to Glassdoor’s 2021 research unpacking the UK’s highest paying entry level roles, software developers, software engineers, data scientists and product managers all appear in the top ten roles on the list.** **

If you’re considering a career in London, here are a few particulars to keep in mind:

Working hours and leave

In London, you can’t work more than 48 hours a week, normally averaged over 17 weeks. Should you have to work overtime, employers are not required to pay employees for this time, unless stated in their employment contract or if average pay for the total hours falls below the National Minimum Wage.

Employees are entitled to 28 days of annual leave if they work five days a week but an employer can offer more than that.

Note: Employers are not legally required to give employees paid off-days for public holidays, unless this is the usual practice worldwide.

Labour legislation

While there is no specific probation period under UK employment law, some contracts will stipulate probation terms valid for a predetermined period. The most common probation period is 3-6 months. Longer periods are reserved for more senior roles. Probation periods can also be longer than 6 months, but they do need to be reasonably justified.

Similarly, should an employee be dismissed, the notice period the employer gives must be stipulated in the employment contract and usually ranges from 1 week to 3 months.

Check out the income tax brackets and payment percentages that will be deducted from your payslip when working in the UK.

UK work visa requirements

If you are not a UK citizen, you will need a work visa to work and live in the UK. A Skilled worker visa is the primary immigration route for skilled workers. It is aimed at individuals with a job offer from an approved licensed employer in the UK who are coming to fill a gap in the labour force that cannot be filled by someone already in the country.

This visa category also makes provision for the spouses, partners and any dependent children to immigrate to the UK at the same time as the visa applicant. Requirements include:

  • A confirmed offer of employment from a licensed UK employer (sponsor).

  • A valid certificate of sponsorship from the UK employer.

  • Proof that the job will not displace a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker.

  • 70 points under the points based system.

  • A job that meets certain skill and salary level requirements.

  • Meeting the English language requirement.

  • Meeting the maintenance requirement.

Those with an innovative idea wanting to start a business in the UK can also consider applying for a startup visa. Find more info about the process here.

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