August 20, 2018

What rights a person who works for you has, depends on their contractual relationship with you.

The differences between an employee, worker and a self-employed person are essential, as each status confers different rights.

An Employee

All employees are workers. However, employees have extra rights and responsibilities that workers do not have.

An employee will work within the terms of their contract of employment, carrying out the work personally.

Their contract will detail terms such as pay, annual leave and working hours.

Although a contract does not have to be in writing to be valid, the main terms and conditions should be written.

An employer will normally pay tax and national insurance contributions on their employee’s behalf.

An employer will also state either in the contract of employment or verbally where the work is to be done and will supply the tools and materials necessary for the work to be carried out.

A company’s disciplinary and grievance procedures will also apply to an employee.

An employee will be entitled to a variety of employment rights, such as:

  • The National Minimum Wage;
  • Holiday, maternity and sick pay;
  • A minimum notice period on the termination of their contract;
  • Statutory redundancy pay;
  • The right to request flexible working.

It is important to note that in order for an employee to be eligible for these rights, they may require a certain period of continuous employment.

A Worker

Similarly, a worker will have to work within the terms of their contract of employment, and will generally have to carry out the work personally.

However, they may have the limited right to send someone else to carry out the work, like a sub-contractor.

Additionally, some of the rights a worker is entitled to include:

  • The National Minimum Wage;
  • Statutory holiday pay;
  • Statutory rest breaks.

An employer must continue to have work for a worker, for the duration of their contract, and workers must turn up for work, even when they don’t want to.

A worker could include agency workers, seasonal workers or freelance workers.


A self-employed person will run their own business, and the successes and failures of the business will be their responsibility.

Self-employed people will not be paid through PAYE.

Instead, they are responsible for paying their own tax and national insurance contributions.

Self-employed people will most likely be contracted to provide a service, and will not have the same rights and responsibilities as a worker or an employee.

The rights and responsibilities will be set out in the contract that they have with the relevant client.

However, self-employed people will still have protection for their own health and safety, and in certain cases, they will also be protected against discrimination.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.