Employment Status

Emma DavisPosted 19 September 2017 By Emma Davis, HR Consultant In Human Resources

Having been fairly quiet on the employment law front, recently there has been an influx of information and decisions.

Employment status remains in the news, particularly where individuals may be workers rather than self-employed contractors. If they are deemed to be workers they are entitled to national minimum wage and paid holidays, so how to you check the status of the people working with and for you?

Self-employed/contractors – if they run their own business for themselves and are responsible for its success or failure, its likely that they’re self-employed. There is no employment law covering the self-employed.

Workers – they will an agreement to do work or services personally for a reward; receive money or a benefit in kind, for example the promise of a contract or future work; they only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work; they have to turn up for work even if they don’t want to; their employer has to have work for them to do as long as the arrangement lasts; they aren’t doing the work as part of their own limited company in an arrangement where the ‘employer’ is actually a customer or client.

If they are a worker then they have certain rights, national minimum wage, no unlawful deductions from wages, holiday, breaks and the ability to work no more than the 48-hour working week if they wish, protection against unlawful discrimination, whistle-blowing and not to be treated less favorably if they work part-time. They may also be entitled to statutory payments.

They are likely to be workers if most of the following apply:

• they occasionally do work for a specific business
• the business doesn’t have to offer them work and they don’t have to accept it - they only work when they want to
• their agreement with the business uses terms like ‘casual’, ‘freelance’, ‘zero hours’, ‘as required’ or something similar
• they had to agree with the business’s terms and conditions to get work - either verbally or in writing
• they are under the supervision or control of a manager
• they can’t send someone else to do their work
• the business deducts tax and National Insurance contributions from their wages
• the business provides materials, tools or equipment they need to do the work

Employees – a person who works under an employment contract and they have additional rights to those of workers including protection against unfair dismissal, right to request flexible working, time off in emergencies, statutory redundancy pay and other statutory payments. Of course, some of these rights require a minimum length of continuous service.

This challenge is not going to go away, both employers and certain individuals want flexibility in how they operate. The recent Taylor Review recognises this, but is still recommending a new class of “worker”, dependant contractors, so the water may become even more muddied around employment and worker status. So it may be advantageous to review all the terms and status of individuals that work with you and get them right now. 

To discuss this or anything else please contact Emma Davis on 01793 818300 or send her an email,

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