There is no “one” relocation package for an international nurse, though there are many commonalities across different employer packages.
Generally speaking, because such a high proportion of international nurses are economic migrants, it is simply not affordable for them to cover all the upfront costs themselves. Or if they did, the time from interview to deployment would be extended as they need to save in between different steps in the application process.
Also, given the demand for international nurses, experienced candidates in particular have their pick of roles, and therefore would not opt for roles that require the candidate to be self-funding.
Passing the English Language test, either the IELTS or OET is a mandatory first-step of the NMC registration process for most international nurses (or providing evidence to show that they are exempt from the test). Most employers opt to reimburse this test fee which ranges between approximately £160 and £370. A lot of candidates regard this to be a standard part of their package, though because all candidates have usually self-funded this prior to interview, some recruiting organisations say that it won’t be refunded. These organisations usually have a healthy pipeline of candidates and tend to be based in more attractive locations.
Most international employers will cover all NMC application costs including the initial application fee (currently £140), Part 1 of the Test of Competence – the Computer Based Test, more commonly known as the CBT (currently £83), and Part 2 of the Test of Competence – the OSCE Test (currently £794). Some organisations will pay the £153 registration fee with the NMC after passing the OSCE, but again it depends on if this is a cost they currently cover for their current workforce and how easy they find it to attract good candidates.
Flights, meet and greet are a standard part of the relocation package, albeit the flight is sometimes capped at a specific budget. We have seen these budgets pushed upwards in recent months as flight prices have increased due to fuel surcharges. Immigration costs are also usually covered in their entirety.
Accommodation on arrival is also a standard part of the relocation package, in the main because it would be very challenging for candidates to source appropriate accommodation for their arrival from overseas, particularly considering the cost. Accommodation is discussed in more detail in the following section.
The variety in international nurse recruitment packages tends to come after arrival in the UK – the level of support and investment in OSCE training, the number of OSCE attempts covered, whether travel and accommodation around the OSCE is covered, whether study leave prior to the OSCE is paid or offered at all, and what company perks are included in the job offer – whether that be private medical insurance, meals on the job or paid breaks.
Interestingly, something employers sometimes worry about in regard to their international recruitment package that never really comes up from a candidate perspective is the issue of pension.
A key benefit of recruiting from the Philippines is that because recruitment is so highly regulated by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, it is possible to provide reimbursements to candidates for key expenses prior to deployment without fear the candidate will “disappear into the dead of night, never to be seen again”. When Philippine candidates sign up to work with a POEA registered recruitment agency, they are required to sign an agreement that if any costs are incurred on their behalf and then they withdraw from the recruitment process for any reason, they are required to repay these costs back to the hiring organisation. If they do not, they can be “blacklisted” with the POEA and blocked from leaving the country with any other employer. Whilst this approach isn’t fool proof i.e. a candidate decides that they no longer want to work overseas, blacklisting them from leaving with another employer won’t be effective. However this is incredibly rare, and in most eventualities if a candidate decides to relocate with another employer, they will repay any costs incurred to ensure their preferred relocation experience goes smoothly.
Some employers do not offer the standard structured relocation package and instead choose to issue the candidate with a total “relocation allowance” that they can use to cover whatever expenses they choose. However, these packages can be harder to communicate to candidates and can be less popular as candidates don’t understand why certain specific costs aren’t covered.
Other employers provide the standard relocation package but structure it as more of a loan agreement and ask the candidate to make repayments over the period of their contract – employers who have a healthy pipeline of candidates can afford to do this, but this can be harder to implement for harder-to-fill vacancies.
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