Since 2004, when Poland joined the European Union, Poles have been legally allowed to live and work in the United Kingdom. Since this time, Polish immigrants have already become the second-largest group of foreign born group living in the UK, after Indians, states The Economist.
The 2011 census reported the number had reached 579,000, ten times higher than 10 years earlier. In 2012 Polish women gave birth to 21,156 children, more than any other group apart from native Britons. In fact, in 2011 it was reported that Polish women in the UK are having babies at a faster rate than those in Poland due to better living conditions and support infrastructure.
The Migration Policy Institute stated that 1.5m people from new EU states, the majority being Poles, have come to the UK since 2004 and that more than half have now left, claimed the BBC. However, Professor Krystyna Iglicka, of Warsaw’s Centre for International Affairs, said Poland saw no indication of this actually happening and that they saw evidence to the contrary.
What makes living in the UK such an attractive proposition?
Poland’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product, the market value of all officially recognized final goods and services produced within a country in a given time frame) is considerably lower than that of Britain, $500 billion, compared to the UK’s $2.4 trillion. As GDP per capita is often considered a measure of the standard of living within a country, this figure would suggest that living the United Kingdom is a more attractive proposition that residing in Poland.
Gross Domestic Product (Google Public Data)
Beyond this, the unemployment rate in Poland is higher than that in the UK. Despite a sharp decline in Poland’s unemployment rate between 2005 and 2008, the UK still represents a less saturated labour market.
Justina Wilner, 24, told BBC news that she came to the UK in 2008 as it was “really hard” to find a job after she completed a marketing degree at a university in Poland. She stated that “For young people, it is much better when you have some experience and a language. However for people over 40, living outside large economic centres, the situation remains the same as it was a few years ago. The lack of jobs or poorly-paid positions are not attractive for them, therefore those people are more likely to stay in the UK”.
There are both regional and geographical factors contributing to high unemployment rates in Poland. Geographically, rates vary dramatically. In eastern regions of Poland rates have been seen to reach as high as 20%, as opposed to 9.2% in the western Wielkopolskie voivodship. Eastern regions are less developed meaning fewer jobs are available.
Generational differences are also a factor. With regards to high youth unemployment Dominika Staniewicz, labor market expert at the Business Center Club (BCC) stated that “Many young people want to receive a lot of money, which they don’t deserve, at the start of their careers.”
Ms Staniewicz also commented that employees over the age of 56 receive “special government protection” making it almost impossible for companies to cease their employment. As a result of this, many firms show a tendency to let people go before they reach that age.
Unemployment Percentage (Google Public Data)
For Poles who do eventually find work in their native country, the minimum hourly wage is less than half of that paid in
Britain; at time of writing it’s closer to a third. The Ministry of Labour in Warsaw is currently considering the introduction of a minimum hourly wage for Polish workers. Although this is a positive step for those who are paid per task rather than per hour (a common practice in Poland), this may in-fact reduce the wage for many workers.
Currently, the minimum wage under the most common form of employment contract (umowa o pracy) employees receive a gross income of at least 1600 zloty (381.6 euros) for working a full month of 39 hours per week (156 hours per month). This equates to just over 10 zloty per hour whereas the proposed minimum wage is 10 zloty per hour, meaning that for those working 156 hours per month this could actually lower their monthly wage.
In stark contrast, the minimum wage in the United Kingdom is currently £6.31/€7.48 for those over the age of 21, which equates to 33.31 PLN.
Minimum Wage, Euros per Month (Google Public Data)
How much does it cost to send money to Poland?
When considering which is most financially beneficial – working in the UK and sending money to Poland, versus working in Poland – it’s important to take into account the costs associated with transferring money abroad.
There are no currency restrictions when sending money to Poland and, as such, there are a number of services one can use to send money to online. Xendpay offers money transfer services which can help you make the most of your wages earned in the UK.
One month’s wages (156 hours) at minimum wage in the UK: 858.16 GBP / 4257.76 PLN
One month’s wages (156 hours) at minimum wage in the Poland: 322.96 GBP / 1600 PLN
To earn this money in the UK and transfer it to Poland with Xendpay would incur a transfer fee of £2.49 (as of 13th Dec 2013) and the total amount received in Poland will be 4175.70 PLN. This amount is considerably higher that the equivalent wage earned in Poland, paying testament to the benefits of working in the UK and transferring money to Poland online.