The Supreme Court’s latest ruling on Uber drivers working in the ‘gig economy’ will have many questioning what their employment status is. For those who haven’t been following the case, it centres around the employment status of Uber drivers. Whilst Uber argued that the drivers were self-employed, the drivers argued that they were employed workers and therefore qualified for employment rights.
This isn’t the first time that ‘gig work’ has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. In 2018, the Court ruled that contractors working for Pimlico Plumbers were in fact workers, and were entitled to employment rights such as paid holidays. On the other hand, the High Court ruled that Deliveroo riders were self-employed in the same year.
Such high-profile cases (and the introduction of IR35 or off pay-roll working) means that many self-employed workers and contractors can reasonably begin to question whether they are self-employed or are actually employed workers. So, it’s essential to understand the differences between each employment status.
For someone to be classed as a worker, you must have a contract or agreement to do work and services in exchange for money or benefit in kind. The contract doesn’t need to be written, and the reward can be a promise of future work. What’s more important is that you can’t really send anyone else in to do the work for you as a sub-contractor and that you have to turn up for work even if you don’t want to.
Additionally, your employer will deduct tax and national insurance from your wages. As a worker, your employer must provide you with work for as long as your contract lasts but can vary the hours. Zero-hours contracts fall under this category.
Most workers aren’t entitled to a minimum notice period if their employer chooses to dismiss them, don’t have protection against unfair dismissal, and cannot claim Statutory Redundancy Pay.
As a worker, you are entitled to certain employment rights, which include:
These rights exist from your first day at work.
An employee is a worker who is required to work a minimum number of hours, has an employment contract, and who is required to work regularly. They cannot sub-contract their work or send someone else to work in their place, and usually have a manager or supervisor who is responsible for their workload.
Employees have the same employment rights as workers but also qualify for additional rights, which include:
Additionally, employees can also join the company pension scheme.
The rule of thumb is that you are self-employed if you run your own business and are responsible for its success or failure. As a self-employed person, you are responsible for your own taxes and do not have the same rights and responsibilities as someone who is classed as employed.
If you have the option to decide when and where you work, who you work for, can work for more than one client, and are responsible for buying your own equipment and business assets, you are probably self-employed.
Self-employed people do not qualify for any of the employment rights that workers have.
Suppose you are self-employed but actually feel that your job description sounds more like that of an employee or worker. In that case, it’s a good idea to get some professional advice from an employment lawyer.
Additionally, if you are an employee or worker and feel that you aren’t being allowed the rights you are entitled to, you should also seek independent legal advice.
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