Employment status is increasingly important as new ways of working, such as in the ‘gig economy’, become more commonplace. Organisations providing daily services to consumers, such as food delivery and taxis, or providing courier services to other employers, rely on a workforce who may be combining work with education or caring responsibilities, or who just want a better work-life balance, and who wish to work only when they choose to. Organisations need to know what their responsibilities are in this new environment, not least because of the legal risks involved if they don’t reflect their workforce's rights.

This factsheet explains the legal tests for employment status in the UK, and why they are important for establishing workforce rights. It describes how employment status is set out in law, but defined by case law, and outlines how the law might change in this area in the future.

Explore our viewpoint on employment status, rights and regulation in more detail, along with actions for government and recommendations for employers.

This factsheet was last updated by Jane Mann, Fox Williams LLP

Jane Mann is a partner in City law firm Fox Williams’ employment team, with significant experience advising employers, partnerships, senior executives and partners on the full range of employment and partnership law issues. She combines extensive experience of defending employers facing employment claims, with business/legal advisory work, and is an expert on cross-over employment and regulatory issues. 

More on this topic

Guides
Atypical working: Guidance for employers

Practical guidance to help you identify and implement good atypical working practices

For Members
Employment law
Employment status: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources around legal issues surrounding employees and workers, including Q&As for various types of workers and relevant case law

For Members
Guides
Fixed-term contracts: Guide for employers

Understand what employers need to do to manage fixed-term contracts within the law

Guides
Self-employed contractors: Understanding the law

Understand what employers need to do to manage self-employed contractors within the law

Latest factsheets

Factsheets
Workplace pensions

Learn about the UK law surrounding workplace pensions and how to choose new schemes or review existing pension arrangements

Factsheets
Flexible working practices

Explores the benefits of flexible working, the types of arrangements commonly used and gives practical tips on implementing flexible working practices

Factsheets
Maternity, paternity and adoption rights

Introduces maternity and paternity rights, shared parental leave, and adoption rights in the UK

Factsheets
Redundancy: an introduction

Learn how to use redundancy as a last resort when all alternative approaches have been considered

All factsheets