How to relocate employees with children to London
The 5 steps to a successful employee family relocation
Forget bricks and mortar and equipment, people are your business’s prize asset. Their well-being should, therefore, be your primary concern. When it comes to relocating an employee to London with their young family in tow, this takes on a whole new dynamic.
Cast your mind back to your first day at school; if you thought that was nerve-wracking, imagine doing it in another country you have only just arrived in… this is what expatriate children will go through, multiplied by ten…
If their nearest and dearest struggle to settle into their new surroundings, your assignee’s well-being will be compromised. After all, their children are their prize asset and – understandably – their priority.
Here are some top tips to help relieve your employee of some relocation workload and – crucially for your business– to ensure it’s a successful move for their loved ones.
Step 1 – Check the immigration status of all family members
Before other key aspects of a relocation – such as house and school searches – can begin wholeheartedly, your employee and each family member will need to have the legal right to live and work in the UK. Their nationality might enable them to have that right without going through formalities, but it is important that you record how you assessed their right to live in the UK.
Don’t fall into the trap of assuming the assignee’s immigration application and status will cover their family as well.
Check the required immigration status of all family members, and don’t delay the application process, if an application is necessary.
If in any doubt, we strongly recommend to invest into the advice of an Immigration Lawyer. Any mistakes can be hugely costly, financially and for the business reputation.
Step 2 – Decide whether school fees will be funded by your business
Having reviewed your relocation budget, open effective channels of communication with your employee, so both parties are aware of each other’s expectations around the topic of school fees, which can be hefty in London.
Communicate this decision to your assignee early in the relocation process, as it could impact the all-important school search process.
Just to be clear, not all London schools command fees.
All state schools in London are totally free, so your employee will always have this option as a fallback.
Check out our case study on how we helped a family find a state school for 3 children midway through the school year.
However, there might be reasons why state schools are not the best option for the family. It is important to explore these with the family before making a final decision on supporting school fees. They could be:
- Special education needs
- Universities targeted by the children
- Follow-through of a specific educational curriculum (for example, International Baccalaureate)
- Social status
Step 3 – Start the school search as early as possible
Having established your position regarding school fees, help your assignee to start the school search before they set off. Begin by helping them to understand the UK schooling system.
Finding a London school that matches a family’s requirements is vital to the success of a relocation.
This will be influenced by the area they want to live in, and the type of school – state, private (also called public and independent) or international – they want their child to attend.
Starting the school search when the relocation process is in its infancy will give the family the best chance of securing a place for their child at a school they’re happy with.
Plus, it will free up time for the family to settle in when they arrive, enabling your assignee to focus on their professional responsibilities.
See how we used this methodology to help a family from Brazil find the right school for their child.
Step 4 – Think about offering an orientation tour
Guide your assignee through the entire school search process by helping them to arrange an orientation tour in London.
This will leave them well-placed to make informed decisions about each school and area on their shortlist.
Reviews and reports are all well and good, but there’s nothing like seeing your options up close and personal: they can meet the staff and students, ask questions, assess the facilities and test the school run.
Equally, if an excellent school is located in an area the family does not like, for any reason, it is important for them to explore these directly.
Check out our case study on how we helped a reluctant employee make a final decision in favour of relocating to London, by using an orientation tour. This can be a wise investment for your key people, especially if they have a family!
Step 5 – Help the family with their home search & removal
Once all of the above is done, you can consider to have removed most of the hurdles to a successful family move to London.
It is time to think about the rest of the support you can offer.
In general, we recommend, as a minimum, to help out with the home search and removal, which is the basics of someone’s relocation to London.
This will also include some expert advice on choosing the right London neighbourhood for the lifestyle and budget of the assignee. Landing (and living) in the wrong area can make someone dislike even the most beautiful city in the world (which London is of course!).
Check out our guide to relocating employees to London, for all the steps to take.
Relocating employees to London might seem daunting, especially if they move with a family, but it can be gratifying if everything goes well, which will inevitably reflect positively on you.