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 as a result of the Taylor report.

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

The gig economy: What does it really look like?

A policy report providing latest insights on the scale and nature of the UK’s gig economy

IR35 implications for in-house HR practitioners

Understand the ramifications of IR35 changes for in-house HR, and the five initial steps you can take to help your employer understand them.

IR35 implications for consultants

Whether you use the services of a consultant or are a consultant yourself, you’ll need to understand the ramifications of IR35 – and what you can do about them

Latest factsheets

Talent management

Understand the benefits of talent management, and key features of a talent management strategy

Business partnering

Learn why organisations use business partnering, how it’s implemented and how it can shape successful relationships across the organisation.

HR outsourcing

An overview of HR outsourcing, its use within organisations and its alternatives

Learning theories that impact on design

Learn about the influence of theories on how people learn and the shift away from simplistic learning styles theory

All factsheets