Does it matter if someone is called an ’employee’ or a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed’?
The simple answer is yes, provided that label reflects the reality of the working relationship. An individual’s status determines what workplace rights, if any, they have and it will also have implications for tax and national insurance contributions.
Employees have comprehensive rights, including the right to claim unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments. Although workers have fewer rights than employees, both groups are entitled to, for example, paid annual leave, the national minimum wage and the right not to be discriminated against. Self-employed contractors on the other hand are in business on their own account without any of the rights of employees or workers, although in certain cases they may have the protection of the discrimination legislation.
Litigation about employment status has become increasingly high-profile with the growth of the gig economy involving organisations as diverse as Uber, Deliveroo and Pimlico Plumbers. Significantly, the cases range all the way from the initial Employment Tribunal (ET) proceedings right through to the Supreme Court.
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