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Employment status

Overview
The term 'employment status' is the arrangement under which an individual is engaged to work for an employer. There are three main categories of employment status:
  • employees, hired directly by the organisation
  • workers (for example, casual, agency or freelance workers, performing services personally for the organisation, or working on a seasonal basis)
  • the self-employed (for example, contractors).
Employees are covered by the full range of statutory employment rights. Workers have a more limited range of employment rights. In practice the dividing line between employee and worker can often be blurred.
 
Employment status affects employment rights and tax and National Insurance liabilities, and liability for accidents and loss caused by the conduct of an individual.
 
Recent developments
Changes to IR35 in public sector

The IR35 tax rules governing off-payroll working in the public sector changed on 6 April 2017. From this date, responsibility for deciding whether the rules apply shifts from the worker’s intermediary company to the public body, agency, or third party paying the intermediary, which will then be responsible for deducting relevant tax and NICs from the fee it pays to the intermediary organisation where appropriate.

Government response to Matthew Taylor review

During 2017, Matthew Taylor published a review which, amongst other things, suggested that employment status needed clarifying and the 'worker' category should be renamed 'dependent contractor'. The government stated they would respond to the review by the end of 2017, although this was delayed to the beginning of 2018. The government has now released their response to the Taylor report and have announced a consultation on employment status; seeking views on the options available to increase clarity and certainty in this area. For more information see the in-depth section on 'Government consultation on determining employment status'.

The government also announced they would introduce a number of additional rights for workers including: a right to receive a written statement of particulars; a right to receive a payslip; and a right to request a more stable contract. For more information see the in-depth section on 'Worker rights'.