Work and Applying for a National Insurance Number (NINO)

1. Finding Work

Ukrainians arriving under the Homes for Ukraine scheme have the right to work.

The Job Centre

The Job Centre in Salisbury has been highly praised by those who have used it.  They are happy for Ukrainians and/or their hosts to drop in for help and advice. They can be found at Summerlock House, Summerlock Approach, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7RW or phone  0800 169 0190.

You are likely to be called into the Job Centre to provide an identity verification check once your Universal Credit application is received. Be prepared that this interview may not introduce you to your work coach, and that you will instead be offered another meeting to discuss work and support with your coach.

While the staff are careful to stress that there is no pressure on Ukrainian refugees to find work immediately, the interview that follows inevitably rather contradicts this. First of all, the conditions you have to meet to retain Universal Credit are laid out and a series of undertakings agreed, and there follows a tour of the personal online account a claimant has, with information about how it is to be used. Claimants are required to access it regularly and log everything they are doing to find work. They have to commit to spend 35 hours a week seeking work, and so on. We want to reassure you that, in the first weeks, these stringent requirements are not going to be applied, and a more relaxed approach can be adopted. When the word “regularly” was queried, it was suggested that twice a week would be satisfactory.

2. Other Work-related Services

While the Job Centre is the obvious place to start the search for work, there are a number of specific sites which have been set up for Ukrainians:

  • Remote Ukraine assists Ukrainians in finding remote working opportunities.
  • A job opportunities page has also been set up by the Ukrainian Institute London and United for Ukraine volunteers.
  • Jobs for Ukraine collates academic, scientific, arts, professional and freelance opportunities in multiple countries.

You can also search for work using the government site GOV.UK: Find a job. This is a national online linking service which can be searched simply by inputting the type of skills you can offer and the area where you wish to search (it can be accessed via a link on the Wiltshire key advice for Ukrainians pages).

To stay safe, during your job search and flexible work, it may be a good idea to visit JobsAware for information and advice. This can be accessed direct from the government find a Job pages. We have been alerted that some unscrupulous employers may be offering work in return for accommodation only, and want you to be aware that this is not acceptable.

If you speak Polish, you will find that the existing Polish community is also helping Polish speakers find work in local businesses.

3. Obtaining a National Insurance Number (NINO)

When you completes the online application for Universal Credit, you will probably be told that you will need to go to a local Job Centre (this will be arranged for you). The normal advice is that the Job Centre ‘work coach’ will later help you apply for a National Insurance Number (NINO), which can take 2-6 weeks to arrive in the post. However, the Salisbury Job Centre now recommends that the claimant makes their NINO application on line, as it is quicker than going via the Job Centre. You can apply at

There is conflicting advice on whether it is possible to work prior to receiving your NINO. Homes for Ukraine indicates that Ukrainian nationals will need a NINO before they can apply for a job, and that this will be issued automatically when they receive their Biometric Residence Permit or apply for Universal Credit. However, the government website says:

If you do not already have a National Insurance number, you only need to apply for one if you’re planning to work. You can start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You must also be looking for work or have an offer to start work in the UK. If you have already started working you can still apply. You’re not eligible to apply if you:

  • have a biometric residence permit (BRP) which has a National Insurance number printed on it
  • are only applying for a National Insurance number because you want to apply for benefits or a student loan

4. Some advice on Employment and Employment Agencies

Here at the Hub we know how much importance our Ukrainian guests place on getting work quickly.  We would however like to share some thoughts with you about work, the opportunities which exist here, and how things work, as we have had a rising number of concerns lately. We hope this will be of benefit particularly to recent arrivals.

The Job Centre and Universal Credit

The Job Centre practices inevitably put an emphasis on getting work. Please remember that the system is designed for UK citizens who may otherwise struggle to find work. The commitment to finding work shown by Ukrainians has been exemplary, and the staff at the Job Centre do not require you to take a job which is not appropriate for you, particularly in the first weeks of being here.

If you have any health issues which may affect what you can do, make sure that you tell the staff at the Job Centre so that they do not send you to job interviews that you are not physically able to perform.

If you take a job which proves to be not at all suitable, particularly if it is too physically demanding, you should leave the job, explain to the Job Centre why it was not suitable and start looking for a new job.

Employment Agencies

Employment Agencies are private companies who get paid by employers to find them workers. Your needs may not always be their first concern. You should be particularly careful about the first job which is offered to you – it may be something which no one else wants to do, and may not be appropriate or desirable for you either. You should always ask what else is available, in the hopes of finding something you would prefer to do. Do not be afraid to ask questions about what the job actually involves. You can turn things down, and continue to look.

Language barriers

It must be a concern for everyone arriving in the UK who has little English that this will make it harder to find work. While it is certainly sensible to try to gain more English as quickly as possible, it has been surprising how many people have been able to find work on very little English. Do not lose your optimism, you have a lot to offer.

However, if you prefer to wait until you have had a chance to improve your English before looking for a job, tell the Job Centre, and try to get on an ESOL (English language course) course as soon as possible. There should not be a problem with this.

Flexible hours

Some jobs, particularly in hospitality (i.e. hotels, restaurants and bars) do not commit to giving you a set number of hours. It is generally advisable to avoid zero hours contracts in favour of a guaranteed minimum: you will find that many jobs will comfortably exceed that number.

You will obviously want to make a good impression on your employer, and may be reluctant at first to turn down the hours you are asked to work. This is quite understandable and only you can decide what is reasonable. However, when you have shown you are a hard worker and reliable, you should at least feel able to ask for specific times off if you have something else important that you need to give priority to – such as school events, a family commitment, even a family day out together particularly when multiple family members are working irregular hours. It helps if you can give advance notice of times you do not want to work to whoever organises your rota.

You should always be able to have time off to attend a doctor’s or dental appointment.

And if you are asked to do particularly long shifts or excessive or inconvenient hours on a regular basis, you have every right to indicate that you will do additional hours to help out if someone is sick or there is a problem, but that you do not wish to work excessive hours regularly.

Consider your Own Health

We are aware of some people who are working long hours in order to send money back to Ukraine. We understand that this is important for those people, but do ask you to consider your own health too. Long hours and heavy work can take a toll on you which is damaging. Please take care of yourself as well as others.

Travel Costs

If a job comes up which requires you to catch a bus to get to and from work, make sure you know how frequent the buses are, how long they take and how much they cost. The Job Centre usually requires you to be willing to travel

Know Your Rights

Get to know your rights: you can start by reading the Guidance for Ukrainians arriving in the UK document available on the resources page of our website