differences and similarities in HR Practices, policies in Scotland and England

Hi there,

I am looking forward to relocating to Scotland to pursue my work within HR systems and analytics. Although I am excited about this, I am also nervous as I am unsure of how much change I will face in my new environment with regards to HR policies and practices in Scotland. 

My question is, are there any differences in HR Practices and policies in Scotland and England and if there are, I would be grateful if someone could guide me to relevant links or publications to do some research there.

It will be great to also meet and talk to HR Professionals in various stages of their career who are based in Scotland



  • Hi Afua

    There are differences, but once looked after HR in branch office in Scotland and for most practical purposes it wasn’t significantly different. Holidays differ a bit eg bank hols and traditional fixed summer annual holidays; pay arrangements then paid an annual salary divided by 13 and paid two thirteenths for December - so enforced saving for Christmas and Hogmanay expenses!. Education and work based learning systems differ significantly. Non legal etc differences include: Their paper money looks like something from a Monopoly set. They tend to eat haggis even at breakfast and square sausages and mutton meat pies and very soft floury bread rolls and Forfar Bridies. There’s a traditional Protestant / Roman Catholic Rangers / Celtic sectarian divide in Glasgow area; Protestant churches tend to be nonconformist Presbyterian Calvinist influenced chapels or Church of Scotland parish churches. Central and Local Government differ significantly - eg Scottish Assembly determines many aspects in different ways to England. Scottish Nationalism can become evident sometimes eg in some social interactions but generally not civilised ones (except for eg Brexit!).

    see too eg


    Doubtless very many others that this old Sassenach has missed, but my paternal family were all from Scotland and I look out of my home windows here onto the Galloway coast and hills over the Solway Firth and frequently stray past Gretna Green.....

  • Hi Afua

    One key difference I'm aware of is that the Scottish Government very actively promotes and support flexible working. This is partly due to the small population and greater dependence on migrant workers that has led to bigger skills shortages; and partly due to the fact that many people outside of the two main cities are located remotely.

    You might like to take a look at this website www.familyfriendlyworkingscotland.org.uk/.../

    Family Friendly Working Scotland is a collaboration between several charities and the Scottish Government which funds the initiative.
  • In reply to Anna:

    My late GP happened years ago to be a big pal of the consultant gynaecologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, who could tell endless stories about how he’d contrived to attend to birth complications in the remotest and most inaccessible locations imaginable - and then some!
  • In reply to David:

    I am sure there are some subtle cultural differences but my guess is no larger than the cultural differences between different employers
  • Hi Afua

    I live and work in Scotland and have lived and worked in England and the two key differences I'd highlight are:

    1. Bank Holidays are different (especially at New Year, where most businesses in Scotland close on 1st and 2nd Jan). See www.gov.scot/.../ for more info.
    2. Apprenticeship Levy - while companies that are big enough to pay still pay into the UK Treasury, the way the money is spent is through an increase in the block grant to the Scottish Government rather than through employers accessing 'vouchers' the way they're done in England. See www.gov.scot/.../ for more info.

    Historically (and this might now have changed) holiday pay used to have to be reported differently in Scotland vs England, in one it had to be rolled up in the hourly rate and in the other it had to be separated out - but that's going back over a decade and as I say may well have changed.


  • I would have thought the biggest challenge would be to cope with a broad Glaswegian accent, especially if you are not used to hearing it spoken and/.or English was not your 1st language. My wife used to need simultaneous translation when we watched the TV comedy, Ralph C Nesbitt as I'd got used to such accents whilst working in the oil industry.
  • Hi Afua

    Contract law is different in Scotland, including employment contracts. The difference is in the elements that must be in place for the contract to exist:

    England and Wales: you must be able to show an offer made, offer accepted and consideration
    Scotland: a contract can exist without consideration, i.e. from the point at which the two parties reach agreement.

    That means that if you are involved in e.g. recruiting NEDs where it would be usual in England and Wales to have an agreement signed as a deed because there is no consideration, the Scots don't have this concept.

    Contract law is different because it dates back to the 19th century but for many years now, when employment law has been enacted it has covered all parts of the UK, so for any more modern rights you can safely assume that the same law applies north and south of the border.

    Employment Tribunal procedure is slightly different in Scotland but I wouldn't worry about that until you need to.

    On the point about bank holidays, you need to find out the practice of the organisation you work for as many Scottish companies do not observe their local bank holidays. Nowadays these are more like the old holiday fortnights you can still come across in some towns in England with an industrial heritage such as the Goose Fair in Nottingham or the Leicester Fortnight.