This guide, produced in collaboration with law firm Lewis Silkin, focuses on self-employed contractors. Although the term ‘self-employed’ is not defined in legislation, it is generally accepted to apply to those individuals who run and manage their own business and who would, for example, have control over how, when and who carries out the work. They would also negotiate a price for the work to be carried out.  

Businesses and individuals should be aware that a self-employed individual may be categorised as self-employed for tax purposes but be considered an ‘employee’ (or more likely a ‘worker’) under employment law and therefore entitled to certain statutory rights and protections. Further, where an individual’s services are provided to a business client via a ‘personal services company’, certain tax-related obligations will be triggered under the IR35 regime. 

This guide is designed to help employers ensure that they understand the relationship that they have with their self-employed contractors and highlights any legal issues that they may come across. It also includes information and key points for self-employed individuals to help them understand their employment status and rights. 

Self-employment and an overview of the law

Employment status - where do the self-employed fit in?

Summary of key rights and protections

Employing an individual versus engaging a self-employed contractor – the advantages and disadvantages

Tax and contractors

How to decide what contract to use


More on this topic

Migrant workers and skills shortages in the UK

This report looks at the role of immigration in the context of the post-Brexit skills challenges

Employment law
Timetable of recent and forthcoming legislation: UK employment law

Keep up to date with the latest employment law developments and proposed future changes

Employment law
Race discrimination: UK employment law

Explore our collection of resources around legal issues surrounding race discrimination, including Q&As and relevant case law

People manager guide: Redundancy

Advice for managers when a member of staff on their team faces redundancy

Latest guides

People manager guide: Fertility challenges, investigations or treatment

Practical advice for managers on supporting employees

Fertility challenges, investigations and treatment: Guide to offering workplace support

A guide for people professionals to provide effective support

Strategic workforce planning

Understand what strategic workforce planning is and how to do it

Evidence-based HR: Make better decisions and step up your influence

A step-by-step approach to using evidence-based practice in your decision-making

All guides