Two TikTokers reveal the 5 things that shocked them most about working in the UK

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Two TikTokers reveal the 5 things that shocked them most about working in the UK
Left, Lisa Dollan. Right, Megan and Whitney Bacon-EvansLisa Donlan; Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans
  • Two US TikTokers living in the UK told Insider what surprised most them about working in Britain.
  • They found paid time off was double or triple what they were used to and maternity leave was better.
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There's a lot of differences between the US and the UK, and some similarities too. But what's it like to work in Britain?

TikTokers Whitney Bacon-Evans and Lisa Dollan told Insider what it's like working in the UK, from far more paid vacation time to far lower salaries.

Holiday bonanza

While the US has no legal minimum for paid vacation leave, the UK has a minimum of 28 days a year including national, or "bank", holiday days. Analysis by Zippia suggested the average paid vacation in the US is just 10 days.

It meant that when Bacon-Evans, who previously worked in a car dealership in Kentucky, asked her accounts management boss in the UK for time off, she was apologetic.

Two TikTokers reveal the 5 things that shocked them most about working in the UK
Whitney Bacon-Evans (right) moved to Windsor, near London, to marry Megan.Megan and Whitney Bacon-Evans

"I remember thinking 'wow, that's a lot'. That's a significant amount and I didn't think I was allowed to take it," she said.

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Dollan, who worked in marketing in Atlanta before taking a similar role after moving to Leeds in the north of England, asked her boss if there was a typo in her contract when she saw she had 22 days of paid time off.

Maternity leave can last up to 12 months

When you have a baby, getting time off can be even harder in the US, which has no statutory maternity leave. Some eligible workers can get 12 weeks of protected, but unpaid, maternity leave.

Dollan said she would see colleagues bringing a breast pump to work to feed their child at a nearby daycare on their lunch breaks.

"She would go see the baby and pump and have to do this breastfeeding thing on our lunch break, and she was just in tears coming back to work," Dollan said.

In the UK, though, new mothers get paid 90% of their salary for the first 6 weeks, and at least $190 per week in the 33 weeks after. It's quite common for mothers to take a whole year off work after having a child.

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A relaxed office

The differing perceptions of annual leave feed into a very different work-life balance. Bacon-Evans and Dollan both said they started work later and finished earlier in Britain, which has much less of a "hustle culture". Both now work as full-time influencers.

Two TikTokers reveal the 5 things that shocked them most about working in the UK
Lisa Dollan moved from Atlanta to Leeds in the north of England to marry her husband.Lisa Donlan

"Everybody's trying to prove to everybody else who works the hardest, making little subtle comments in the elevator like 'I was here till 10 o'clock last night,'" Dollan said. "And bosses in the US would reward that, whereas in the UK they'd just call you a workaholic."

The drinking culture was a shock

While British colleagues weren't as clinical in work, Bacon-Evans said they were incredibly committed to social drinks.

She said on Thursdays "beer cart" would be wheeled around her office, while post-work drinks at a bar extended well beyond happy hour.

"The drinking culture was almost compulsory, and you feel like if you don't do that, then you don't get to like integrate on another level with your colleagues," Bacon-Evans said.

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Dollan observed that lunchtime drinking was popular in the UK, a habit that would get you "sacked" in the US, she said.

Brits make a lot less – but no one talks about their pay

Despite a more relaxed approach to work, Bacon-Evans was still shocked at the difference in salary. The average private sector pay in the US is about $1,100 a week, while it's about $725 (£597) in the UK.

"I would have been earning a lot more back home," she said.

Taxes are also lower in the US, at 22.6% of total income, while it's 23.7% in the UK. Outside major cities, housing is also typically cheaper in the US, Bacon-Evans said.

However, Dollan and Bacon-Evans both say these factors are offset by free healthcare and better public services in the UK. Dollan said she would have spent $200 a month on health insurance, while the UK has largely free access to the National Health Service.

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Lower salaries appear at least in part due to a reluctance among co-workers to openly discuss what they earn, unlike in America, say Bacon-Evans and Dollan.

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