Wales is a great place to invest in, especially for labour-intensive Chinese companies. Here, Alex Christen outlines some of the key recruitment, cash flow and employment law benefits the country offers to Chinese investors.,
College graduates represent around 30% of Wales’ working age population, and across the UK there are around half a million graduates at any one time. This means that investors can draw on a large pool of local highly skilled employees to drive their company forward.
South Wales also enjoys excellent transport links to the rest of the UK and European cities by road, rail, sea and air, opening business opportunities up for investors whose sales teams need to travel to the rest of Europe.
From 1 January 2021, the UK will implement a new immigration system. The new rules will facilitate the recruitment of non-UK nationals, lower the skills and salary thresholds, and remove requirements to first advertise jobs in the UK before recruiting from outside the UK. It will therefore be easier for investors to send employees from China to the UK to work alongside the local workforce, upskilling them so that they can work in a way that is fully aligned to their global operations.
Cash flow benefits
Several grants and incentives to those investing in Wales – such as commercial investments from the Development Bank Wales, and non-repayable financing from the Welsh Government of between 10 and 45% of costs for capital expenditure on inward investment projects.
Wales also has a generous research and development tax credit scheme, with a focus on Research & Development, and access to worldwide academic support and research programmes.
In addition, commercial rent and property prices are incredibly competitive, especially compared to London rates, making Wales a cost-effective choice for investors wishing to have a physical office presence in the UK.
Employment law benefits
Employees in the UK are protected under employment law, as they are in China. However, there are areas where Welsh employment law is different to its Chinese counterpart, and some of these differences may be attractive to Chinese investors.
For example, there is no mandatory retirement age in Wales. This means investors can use experienced employees who have a wealth of experience in their chosen area of expertise for longer.
If, on the other hand, an employment relationship is not working out, there is scope to end that relationship in the first two years of employment, by paying a minimum notice period and without having to worry about severance payments or litigation claims.
Although employers in Wales recognise unions, there are fewer requirements on Welsh employers to consult with or notify unions of certain events such as dismissals. This allows investors in Wales more autonomy when making key business decisions regarding their workforce.
While social security payments vary from region to region in China, there is a flat rate across Wales for national insurance contributions. Employees must contribute 12% of their pay, and employers must also make a contribution of 13.8%. All employees are entitled to use the National Health Service, which means employers do not need to provide separate medical insurance (although they can do so if they wish).
Finally, under Welsh law, most intellectual property rights automatically belong to the employer. This means that investors will own the intellectual creations of their employees without these rights having to be formally assigned.
These are just some examples of the benefits of the UK labour system for Chinese investors.
Author: Alex Christen
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