Employment status

Your employment status and rights at work are determined by the type of contract you have. There are three types of employment status: 

  • employee
  • worker
  • or self-employed.

An employee has a contract of service and enjoys all the rights provided by different employment laws that exist in the UK. You’re an employee if you have an employment contract from your employer, tend to be provided regular work by your employer, and have to do the work they ask you to do, and must do it yourself. 

Employees are entitled to rights, including written terms, the right to sick pay, holiday pay, and parental leave pay. They are also entitled to claim redundancy and unfair dismissal after two years’ service. 

Employment law refers to an employee as being an individual who works under a contract of employment. Read our 101 on your rights at work so that you will always know where you stand.

Self-employed people work for themselves so do not have all these employment rights. Self-employed people are responsible for when and how they work. They invoice for their pay, get contracts to provide services for their clients, can send someone else to do the work for them and do not get paid holiday or sick leave. Self-employed people own a company or are freelancers. They can work for different clients and charge different fees. Self-employed people do not have many employment rights but are entitled to health and safety protections on a client’s premises, and protection against discrimination.  

Community is the union for self-employed people, and we are campaigning for the self-employed to have more rights, including rights around parental leave and sick pay.  

Worker is an intermediate status between employee and worker.  

If you’re a worker, you usually do have a contract for services – to do something in return for payment. This can be verbal or written. You usually are employed to do the work personally. However, you would have very little obligation to do or receive work but should do the work you’ve agreed to. An example of this is a zero – hours contract. 

Workers do have some employment rights including: 

If you need help or advice, you can contact us at help@community-tu.org or on 0800 389 6332.


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