Frequently Asked Questions

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Living & Working in Northern Ireland

How is my Tax paid?
Everyone in Northern Ireland must pay tax and National Insurance on all earnings. For Nurses employed in the HSC this is deducted from your pay before you receive it. The payment actually made to you is therefore yours to use as you wish.

How much Tax will I pay?
Most people are entitled to receive a tax free allowance.  This amount is determined by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC), but for the 2016/17 tax year, the basic tax free allowance is £11,000.  This means the first £11,000 of your earnings is tax free. Any earnings over the tax free allowance will be taxable.        

Each month, tax will be deducted from your pay.  Typically this deduction will be 20% of your earnings above the tax free allowance.

More information regarding income tax can be found at: 

Please note: you do not typically receive your tax free allowance in your first months’ pay. This is because HRMC must communicate the appropriate tax free allowance to the HSC Payroll Department.  Once HSC Payroll have received this information they will recalculate your tax to ensure that you have not over contributed.    

How much National Insurance will I pay?
National Insurance contributions are currently paid at the following rates:        
Monthly Earnings   
Between £672 and £3583: 12%      
Over £3583: 2%    
More information on national insurance can be found here: 

When can I bring my family with me?
It is recommended that you make the move to Northern Ireland and gain your NMC registration
before you bring your family. This will also give you time to find suitable accommodation. You will be responsible for organising the Visa requirements for your family members which will be subject to Home Office requirements and approvals.

How much Leave will I have?
You will be entitled to 27 days annual leave for a full annual leave year which runs from 1st April to 31st March each year. If you start part way through the year you will receive a proportionate amount of annual leave for that year according to the number of months remaining.

In addition you will be entitled to 10 days statutory /public holidays which are set days throughout the year as follows:

  • Easter: 2 days (dates change each year)
  • May Day: 1 day (first Monday in May)
  • Spring Bank Holiday: 1 day (last Monday in May)
  • 12th July: 1 day
  •  August Bank Holiday: 1 day (last Monday in August)
  • 25th & 26th December: 2 days
  • 1st January: 1 day
  • 17th March: 1 day

If you are rostered on over a statutory / public holiday you will be paid at an enhanced rate of pay and receive a day off in lieu at another time.

When can I take my annual leave?
Annual leave can be booked through your line manager. You will normally be expected to give at
least 4 weeks’ notice of annual leave requests, particularly if you are wanting a block of time off.
However in most instances you will not be allowed to take all your annual leave in one block. You will be able to check your individual Trust arrangements on arrival.

When I am allocated to a Ward area will I remain there for as long as I want?
No, we expect all our Nursing staff to be flexible and move wards as service needs require. Some Trusts also operate a rotation of Staff Nurses which you may also be expected to participate in. We will always talk to you and ensure you know about any movement before it happens.

If I don’t stay for a minimum of 2 years what will I have to repay?
The HSC is offering you a permanent post subject to NMC registration. It is expected you will remain for a minimum of two years in recognition of the support you have received to gain your NMC registration. If you choose to leave the employment of the HSC prior to the expiry of your first two years you will be expected to repay the support that has been afforded to you, namely the IELTS intensive training and exam fees. Full details would be discussed with you should this situation arise.

Is there any difference in pay rates across the Trusts for a Band 5 Nurse?
No all Trusts are required to use the Agenda for Change Pay scales which are the same for the whole of Northern Ireland.

Can men apply for senior positions in Northern Ireland?
Yes, all Trusts in Northern Ireland work to ensure Equality and Diversity in Northern Ireland. This means that there is equality of opportunity. 

Who pays airfare from my home country to Northern Ireland?
This will be covered through arrangements between TTM and the HSC.

NMC Registration/Nursing Practice in Northern Ireland

How many beds are in each Ward?
Wards range from 17 – 36 beds. You will work as part of a team which will include a Ward Sister /
Deputy Ward Sister / Other Staff Nurses and Nursing Assistants as well as other professions.

What is the average Nurse to Patient Ratio?
In general acute wards, the average nurse to patient ratio is 1:8. However this varies for speciality areas for example ICU, HDU where the ratio may be 1:2.

I Had NMC registration in 2008 - would this still be okay?
If you have maintained your NMC registration then this is acceptable but if you have not maintained it then you will be required to reapply for registration and go through the NMC requirements.

Date of Issue – 1st October 2016

Author – Regional Leads for International Recruitment in Northern Ireland.

The answers to these questions are correct at the date of being published. Any changes will be notified through updates to this publication.