Employment Rights Lawyers

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Employment Rights

Employment status plays a crucial role in defining an individual’s rights and entitlements in the workplace. Determining employment status can, however, be challenging. If you are seeking clarity or assistance in relation to your employment status, our experienced team can assist you. With our expertise in employment law, we are well-equipped to assist in identifying your employment and resolving disputes that may arise in this area. 

In the UK, there are three main types of employment status: 

  • Employee
  • Worker
  • Self-Employed

Determining someone’s status relies on several key legal tests.


What are the key legal tests used to determine employment status?

Three key legal tests are used to determine employment status:

  • Mutuality of Obligation: The extent of obligation for an employer to provide work and for the individual to accept and perform that work.
  • Control: The degree of control the employer exercises over the individual and how they carry out their role.
  • Personal Service: Whether the individual is expected to personally perform the assigned work, or could send someone else in their place.

How is "Worker" status distinguished from "Employee" status?

Employee Status: An individual is usually an employee if they work specific hours, are paid for their work, are required to personally perform tasks assigned to them, and have their work conditions controlled by the employer. Employees typically have contracts of service or employment.

Worker Status: Workers have arrangements to provide services but often lack guaranteed hours or a strict obligation to make themselves available for work. They can usually accept or decline work offers and are not always required to perform the work themselves. The key differential between employees and workers is often the presence of mutuality of obligation.

How do "Self-Employed" persons usually work?

Self-employed individuals typically bid for contracts, provide quotes to clients, may work for more than one client, and typically have more control over their schedules and work methods. They often operate under contracts for service or consultancy agreements and invoice for completed work, rather than receiving regular salaries. Self-employed persons will usually fail to meet most or all of the key tests.

What rights do workers and employees rights?

Workers have various rights, including:

  • Being paid the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage
  • Receiving paid annual leave in accordance with the Working Time Regulations
  • Entitlements to rest breaks and the maximum working week provided by the Working Time Regulations
  • Being auto-enrolled into a qualifying pension scheme
  • Protection against unlawful wage deductions
  • The right to be accompanied at disciplinary and grievance hearings
  • Protection against detriments for having made a protected disclosure (whistleblowing)
  • Extended rights under discrimination law

Employees have all of the same rights as workers, plus additional rights, including:

  • Protection from unfair dismissal
  • Statutory redundancy payments if their employment terminates by reason of redundancy
  • The right to a written statement of particulars of employment and itemised pay statements
  • The right to statutory sick pay
  • Protection under the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006.
  • The right to be informed and consulted on collective redundancy
  • Particular rights as trade union employees

How do self-employed individuals differ in terms of employment rights?

Self-employed individuals operate with fewer employment rights because they are considered to be in business on their own account. They must manage their own financial security, including any provisions for time off, maternity or paternity leave, or illness.

In most instances, a person’s employment status will be clear and obvious. However, there are situations where the lines can blur, leading to disputes and uncertainties. In such cases, seeking professional advice is highly recommended. Employment status plays a pivotal role in defining one’s rights and entitlements in the workplace. Our experienced team specialises in reviewing and applying the key tests in employment law and can assist you in identifying your employment status and resolving any disputes that may arise. Whether you are an employee, worker, or self-employed, understanding your status is essential for safeguarding your rights and ensuring you are treated fairly.

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