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.

When can I seek Permanent Residency?
You will initially come with a 3 year visa after which you can apply for an extension. In most cases,
based on current rules, you can apply for Permanent Residency after 5 years. All applications are 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 the full 3 years of my initial visa what will I have to repay?
The HSC is offering you a permanent post subject to Home Office restrictions. If you choose to leave the employment of the HSC prior to the expiry of your first 3 year visa you will be expected to repay
the support that has been afforded to you. This will include the training for your IELTS, your CBT examinations and the OSCE examinations. 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 I move to another Trust after a few months?
No, your visa and associated Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) is for a single employer which will not permit you to move Trusts. If on the longer term and whilst you remain on a COS, you apply to a new position in another Trust it would be subject to you obtaining a new COS. The COS can only be issued where the post is on the shortage occupation list and where there is no suitable worker in the resident labour market. Once you obtain permanent residency then you will be free to apply for positions as you wish.

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. Whilst you are in Northern Ireland under a Certificate of
Sponsorship (COS), you will be restricted to posts for which you can have a COS issued. The COS can only be issued where the post is on the shortage occupation list and where there is no suitable worker in the resident labour market.

Who pays for the Visa Application?
The visa application is covered under an arrangement between TTM and the HSC. The Health Surcharge which must be paid as part of your visa application will initially be paid for you, however, this cost will be repayable to the HSC over an agreed period following commencement of your employment.

Can I visit family in the South of Ireland?
There are restrictions in place for those who enter the UK (which includes Northern Ireland) on a Tier 2 Work Visa. The UK and Ireland combined form the ‘common travel area’ (CTA). If you enter the CTA as a tourist, you can travel anywhere within it. However if you enter the CTA on a specific work visa (such as a UK Tier 2), then you can only work and visit the UK. You cannot enter the Republic of Ireland as a tourist without a specific visitor visa, as you cannot switch visas once you have entered the CTA. This means that to enter the Republic of Ireland you will need to obtain a specific tourist visa which may or may not be possible when on a Tier 2 Visa.
(We are currently seeking clarification on the ability of someone on a Tier 2 Visa to obtain a visitor’s visa for the Republic of Ireland).

OSCE - will the cost of flight to Northampton and accommodation be covered by the Trust?
We have recently had a centre approved for the OSCE’s in Northern Ireland which will be operational by December 2016. Costs associated with traveling to the OSCE centre for the examination will be covered by the HSC.

Are the contracts permanent?
The offers being made are permanent but as you will be subject to Home Office restrictions in line with your visa then you employment must be managed in accordance with those restrictions. However, providing that you have leave to remain in the UK then the posts will remain open to you. If you obtain permanent leave to remain then you will be confirmed into a permanent post (subject to satisfactory performance).

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

NMC Registration/Nursing Practice in Northern Ireland

What happens if I fail my OSCE’s?
When you arrive in Northern Ireland you will be provided with training and support to prepare you for undertaking your OSCE’s in order to achieve your NMC registration. If you fail your OSCE at your first attempt you will be permitted to undertake it again.  Should you fail your second attempt you will not be able to gain your NMC registration, your employment in the HSC will come to an end and you will be sent home. Please note that you must complete your second attempt within 8 months of your start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship. 

Should you fail your OSCE’s TTM will look after having you returned safely to the Philippines.

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 – 27th September 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.



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