Types of employment status - Employment status

Types of employment status

'Employment status' is someone's legal status at work. It affects what employment rights they're entitled to and their employer's responsibilities.

There are 3 main types of employment status:

  • employee
  • worker
  • self-employed

Someone's employment status is based on:

  • their employment contract or 'written statement of employment particulars'
  • what was agreed when they were offered the job
  • the way the organisation and the individual work together

How to work out employment status

To help work out someone's employment status, check if their work situation suggests they are:

It can also be helpful to check:

When employment status might not be clear

In some circumstances, it might not be clear whether someone is legally classed as an employee or worker. It's particularly important to work out their employment status.

For example, if they're:

  • zero-hours staff
  • bank staff
  • working in the 'gig economy' – for example working through online platforms
  • on a work experience placement or internship
  • on a fixed-term or rolling contract
  • a piece worker – when someone is paid for each piece of work they do
  • peripatetic – someone who has no fixed workplace or works in different locations
  • an employee shareholder
  • a locum

Agency workers

An agency worker could be an employee, worker or self-employed.

Find out more about employment rights as an agency worker

Employment status for tax purposes

Employment status for tax purposes is different from employment status for employment rights purposes.

To check if someone is employed or self-employed for tax purposes, use HMRC's Check Employment Status for Tax Tool.

Directors, office holders and volunteers

Company directors, office holders and volunteers do not have the same rights as employees and workers.

Find more information on GOV.UK about:

Get more advice and support

If you have any questions about employment status, contact the Acas helpline.

You can also read GOV.UK guidance on employment status and employment rights.

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