Are you thinking of starting a new life as a temporary migrant worker in the UK? You will be following a growing trend in the UK labour market, joining people from across the European Union moving from nation to nation on a temporary basis. While it is difficult to calculate the total number of temporary or agency migrant workers in the UK, Migration Observatory calculated that in 2013 there were 2.9 million foreign-born workers in the UK.
Before you arrive in the UK as a temporary migrant worker you may have signed up with an agency who would be both employing you (or finding and placing you in temporary assignments) and paying you. Alternatively you may have secured freelance or contracting work before making the move. After securing your contract as a temporary migrant worker, and finding somewhere to live, one of the next, and most important, things to do is set up a local bank account to manage your money in.
UK Bank Accounts
There are several reasons you will need a UK-based migrant bank account while you are working in Britain, either temporarily or on a more permanent basis. Firstly, as your agency may have informed you, you will need to be paid any wages due, into a UK bank account via a direct transfer or BACS payment. All companies you are likely to work with will operate in this way.
As a temporary worker you may also wish to transfer funds back home, either as savings or to a family member. Having a bank account, and especially one offering online services will help you do this securely so you can be sure your money reaches its intended recipient in a timely fashion. It is also a more convenient method for transferring funds compared to wire services, such as Western Union, as you can often do it directly from your account. Lastly, it serves as further documentation of your time in the UK and proof of address. A bank account also keeps a record of your pay which you may need in the future.
High Street Banking – the Pitfalls
So what are your options for opening a bank account as a temporary migrant worker?
The first place you may look (or be referred to by your agency) could be one of the traditional high street banks. There are several banks which offer temporary accounts and services to migrant workers and your agent can advise you on any banks which they currently work with, or have worked with in the past. When opening a high street bank account you will need to provide a host of documentation such as utility bills in your name, photo ID and sometimes a letter from your employer confirming your employment status. You may also undergo a credit check to open an account.
Most bank accounts, even basic bank accounts will either charge a nominal monthly – around £10 or require a minimum monthly deposit. This is often set at a minimum £1,000 a month, equivalent to a salary of £13,400 before tax. Fees and minimum deposits can preclude people from either being eligible to open an account, or wanting to.
What are the Banking Alternatives?
An alternative to opening a high street bank account is to open a current account and a prepaid Visa or Mastercard card. These are cards which operate in a similar way to a bank account. Typically you can have wages paid directly onto your card, manage it online and make payments, on the high street or virtual high street. With a prepaid card, such as the Suits Me® card, there won’t be any credit checks as although this is a financial product, it is not a credit product and so you are not opening a facility where you could borrow money. Being able to quickly open a financial facility can be handy when you either have a short history in the UK or are only planning to stay for a limited time. If the agency you are working with is signed up with a prepaid card provider you will often only need proof of address as further information to open it. With Suits Me® you can have an account number and sort code within sixty minutes, be ready to work and most importantly receive your pay!
Prepaid cards do carry some fees, typically between £2 – £5, lower than comparable fees for bank accounts and with no minimum monthly deposits. There may be an initial application fee of between £2 and £10. Prepaid Visa cards are accepted worldwide at more than 24 million locations, the same as a normal debit or credit card
The Suits Me® account and Mastercard® debit card provides a way for our members to access their pay even before payday by giving you immediate access to any pay, and benefits such as discounts with selected high street retailers, accrued on demand. You can manage your finances through your online account or mobile app in real-time, paying bills, transferring money or checking your current balance staying on top of your finances.