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How to relocate employees with children to London

How to relocate employees with children to London

Forget about the physical assets like buildings, equipment, and infrastructure; the true treasure of your business lies in its people. Therefore, their welfare should be your foremost concern. When relocating an employee to London along with their young family, this responsibility takes on an entirely new dimension.

Think back to your own first day of school; if you found it nerve-wracking, imagine undergoing the experience in a foreign country you’ve just arrived in… this is the magnitude of what expatriate children endure.

If their family members struggle to acclimate to the new environment, it will inevitably impact the well-being of your employee. After all, their family members are their most valued possessions and understandably their top priority.

Here are some valuable tips to ease the relocation process for your employee and, importantly for your business, ensure a smooth transition 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

After assessing your relocation budget, initiate clear and open lines of communication with your employee regarding the topic of school fees, which can be substantial in London. It’s crucial for both parties to understand each other’s expectations in this regard.

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.

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.  Our London Schools Map may help to narrow down the search.

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.

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.

While reviews and reports offer valuable insights, there’s truly no substitute for experiencing your options firsthand. Visiting the schools allows families to interact with staff and students, pose questions, evaluate facilities, and even test out the school commute.

Similarly, if an exceptional school is situated in an area that the family finds unsuitable for any reason, it’s essential for them to directly address these concerns and explore their options thoroughly.

Step 5 – Help the family with their home search & removal

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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.

As a general guideline, we suggest providing assistance with the home search and removal process, as these are fundamental aspects of relocating to London.

This will also include some expert advice on choosing the right London neighbourhood for the lifestyle and budget of the assignee. Choosing the wrong area could potentially sour one’s experience, even in a city as vibrant as London

Check out our guide to relocating employees to London, for all the steps to take.

Relocating employees to London, particularly when they move with their families, can indeed appear daunting. However, if the process is managed smoothly and successfully, it can be immensely rewarding for both the employees and the employer. A successful relocation reflects positively on the organization and fosters a sense of loyalty and appreciation from the relocated employees.

Good luck with your next employee move to London!

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