Employment Status: Am I Self Employed, an Employee or a Worker?

An employment status determines what rights you are entitled to, as well as for tax and National Insurance purposes. It is important that you know what your employment status is so that you are aware of your rights at work. If you are an employer, you should be aware of the status of the people in your workforce. 

In the UK, the type of employment and rights associated with it are defined under the Employment Rights Act 1996

What is an Employment Status?

Employment status is a legal classification that determines an individual’s rights and protections at work. It also dictates the employer’s responsibilities.

The Three Types of Employment Status in the UK

There are three main types of employment status in the UK:

  • Employee: Employees have the most comprehensive employment rights, including protection against unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy pay, maternity and paternity leave, parental leave, the right to request flexible working, rights under TUPE, and preferred payments in case of employer insolvency.
  • Worker: Workers have fewer rights than employees, but they are still entitled to the national minimum wage, statutory minimum holiday pay, a 48-hour workweek limit (with an opt-out option), protection against discrimination, and minimum rest break durations.
  • Self-employed: Self-employed individuals are not employees and do not have the same employment rights. They are responsible for their own taxes and National Insurance contributions.

Additionally, the UK Government also defines two other employment statuses:

  • Director: A director is a person who runs a limited company on behalf of its shareholders, and has different rights and responsibilities from employees.
  • Office holder: An office holder is a person appointed to a position without a contract or regular payment, such as a company director or club treasurer, and is neither an employee nor a worker.

What Does The Tribunal Look at When Deciding Employment Statuses?

Determining your employment status can be complex, especially if you have a zero-hour contract, bank or locum work, gig economy platform-based work, a placement or internship, a rolling or fixed-term contract, an employee shareholder position, or a peripatetic role with no fixed base.

Knowing your status is crucial for your legal rights, and an Industrial Tribunal will decide if there is a dispute between you and your employer.

The tribunal will consider four key factors:

  • Control: How much control do you have over your work?
  • Integration: How integrated are you into the company?
  • Shared obligations: Do you have shared obligations with your employer, such as a duty to work and a duty to pay?
  • Economic reality: Is the economic reality of your relationship that you are an employee?

If you are unsure of your employment status, you should seek legal advice.

Knowing Your Rights and Entitlements 

Knowing your employment status is important because it determines your rights and protections at work. For example, if you are an employee, you are entitled to protection against unfair dismissal. If you are a worker, you are entitled to the national minimum wage.

If you are unsure of your employment status, it is important to seek professional advice. Get in touch with us by