What’s the difference between a worker and an employee?

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We have been asked by a couple of different clients this week what is the difference between a worker and an employee.

You can have both workers and employees working in your business, and also self-employed contractors and agency workers – all of which have different legal rights.

So what’s the difference?

An employee is an individual employed by you to work a specific number of hours each week. Employees have the most protection of each of the groups with some starting from their first day up to two years’ service.

A worker agrees to work for you on an ad-hoc basis as and when you need it and when it suits them. You may have heard of casual workers, bank staff or zero hours workers, all of whom would fall within this category. They currently have some protection in law such as not being subject to any exclusivity clauses and they must be paid at least the National Living Wage and are entitled to accrue annual leave for the hours they work.

A self-employed contractor can either work for you themselves or provide someone else to provide the work on their behalf. They are not controlled by you and do not become an integral part of your business. As a result, they have no protection from any employment law perspective.

Agency workers are employed by an agency but carry out work for you.

It’s important to make sure that you have the correct status as there can be considerable risks involved in getting it wrong and implications involving HMRC.

Three recent landmark cases – Pimlico Plumbers, CitySprint and Uber have been well publicised where the Tribunal and/or the Supreme Court have ruled that what the employers considered to be self-employed contractors were in fact workers with employment rights.

If you need any help in this area, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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