Employee - Employment status


People with 'employee' employment status have:

  • more employment rights than workers or self-employed people
  • more obligations towards their employer

What makes someone an employee

Someone is likely to be legally classed as an employee if most of these things apply:

  • they're required to work regularly unless they're on leave
  • they can usually expect work to be consistently available
  • they cannot unreasonably refuse to do the work
  • they get paid holiday – they might also have additional contractual holiday entitlement
  • they're subject to the employer's discipline and grievance procedures
  • they need to give notice to their employer if they want to take maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • they cannot get someone else to do their job
  • their employer decides how, when and where they do their work
  • their employer provides the materials, tools and equipment for their work

If most of these do not apply, someone is more likely to be a worker or self-employed.

Employment rights

Employees are entitled to:

As long as they meet any eligibility criteria, they're also entitled to:

Detriment related to health and safety

An employer must not cause an employee 'detriment' because the employee:

  • reasonably believes being at work or doing certain tasks would put them in serious and imminent danger
  • takes reasonable steps over a health and safety issue, for example complaining about unsafe working conditions
  • informs their employer about a health and safety issue in an appropriate way

Detriment means someone experiences one or both of the following:

  • being treated worse than before
  • having their situation made worse

Examples of detriment could be:

  • an employer reduces someone's hours
  • experiencing bullying
  • experiencing harassment
  • an employer turns down someone's training requests without good reason
  • someone is overlooked for promotions or development opportunities

An employee could have a case for automatically unfair dismissal if they're dismissed in these circumstances. They do not need to have worked for their employer for 2 years to make this claim.

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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