If you are doing paid work in the UK, then you will fall into one of three main employment categories:
- An employee, or
- A worker, or
- Self-employed (sometimes called an independent contractor)
Your employment status is important because it determines your legal rights with respect to your employment. Some rights apply whatever your employment status, such as health and safety laws. However, only workers and employees are entitled to paid holidays, and only employees are entitled to maternity and paternity pay. Employees have the most rights, workers have fewer rights and independent contractors have the fewest.
How to determine your employment status
Sometimes your employment status will be very clear. Other times it can be very difficult to determine, especially if you are an agency worker or work in the ‘gig’ economy (where you are employed on short-term contracts each for a specific activity such as a delivery or a journey). A good starting point is to look at the written particulars of employment, or your contract of employment, which may contain references to your employment status. If you haven’t been given either of these then you should write to your employer and ask for a copy of these. While your contract provides an indication of your employment status it is not conclusive: other aspects of the working relationship between you and your employer are also important e.g. who pays your National Insurance contributions and how integrated you are into the organisation. For example Uber drivers were classified by their employer as contractors but a court decided they were entitled to rights as workers.
Where to go for further information
If you need help about your employment status or rights you can:
- Contact Suffolk Law Centre, or
- Check the TUC (Trades Union Congress) website at https://www.tuc.org.uk/employment-status-and-rights for indicators of your employment status and associated rights.