Updated for 2014

Deciding someone’s employment status can be complicated and Employment Tribunals and HMRC may consider different factors when deciding what status you have, as there is no single legal definition.  IR35 legislation has muddied the legal waters further, and not knowing how to correctly define yourself can lead to Tribunals and, in some cases, financial penalties. For more information on determining your legal status if you are a Contractor, see our IR35 Guide.  The HMRC published a ‘Supervision, Direction or Control’ Guidance in March 2014 which you can see here.

There are three different types of working individuals

  • an Employee
  • a Worker (someone who works on a e.g. casual basis or is an agency temp)
  • or someone who is self-employed (i.e. a freelancer or contractor)

It is important to establish your status, as:

It is therefore equally important for Employers to know the correct status of those you employ.

To read about Internships/Work Experience see our Interns article here. For more information on unpaid Volunteers and Voluntary Workers see our new article here.

If you are an Apprentice read our Guide to Apprenticeships here.

An Employee

Presently, there is no single legal test to determine if you are an employee or a worker, but you are likely to be an Employee (whether on a Permanent (open-ended) contract or on a Fixed-Term contract) if -

  • Your Employer provides the work, any tools and equipment for it, and they decide how and when you do the work. (Known as the What, Where, When and How Tests)
  • You will usually have a written contract (although a verbal contract will count)
  • You are expected to do the work yourself that you are employed to do, and may be moved to a different tasks
  • You are paid a regular amount according to the hours you work (through the Pay as You Earn system – so Tax and National Insurance is deducted), and you usually have to work a set amount of hours. You may get extra pay for overtime and bonuses.
  • The legal definitions of these (from case law, not from statute) are personal service, mutuality of obligation and control.

If you are an Employee your contract is called a ‘contract of service’.

On 1st September 2013, Employee-Shareholder contracts were introduced into UK law – this is a new type of employee contract and full details are here.

There is now a provision in law where someone employed on a Fixed-Term contract can receive a permanent (open-ended) contract if:

  • You have been continuously employed (i.e. no significant breaks) by the same employer a on a fixed-term contract for four years or more that started after 10th July 2002 (unless your Employer has changed this time limit by a ‘workforce’ or ‘collective’ agreement)
  • If this is the case you can ask your employer for a statement confirming that you are now permanent and no longer employed on a Fixed Term contract
  • Your employer can only keep you on a Fixed Term contract after 4 years if they could objectively justify this at the point your Fixed Term contract was last renewed
  • If your employer fails to give you this statement (when you have requested it) or gives you a statement of reasons why you must remain on a Fixed Term contract that you do not agree with, you can make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

For more information about Fixed Term contracts click here

A Worker

This is broader category than an ‘employee’, introduced by European Union legislation (although there is no EU definition).  A worker is anyone who works for an employer under a contract of employment (but this may be a written contract or not and the contract may not come directly from the Employer) and performs the work personally (which can include some freelancers).

Workers are usually:

  • Agency workers (‘temps’) – the Agency who finds you work pays your wages (or if you are a contractor, you may get work through an Agency but an Umbrella company pays your wages), and the Company who hires you pays a fee to the Agency for your work.  For more information on working out if you are an Agency worker click here.
  • Short-term Casual Workers hired directly by the Employer (often with a written contract and usually paid via PAYE, with tax and national insurance contributions deducted) – Casual Workers are not usually part of the permanent workforce but supply their services on an irregular or flexible basis or have a ‘minimum guaranteed hours’ or ‘zero hours’ contract.  For further information on Zero Hours Contracts, and whether casual workers ever become employees, see our new Guide here. For more information on working out if you are a Casual Worker click here
  • Some Freelancers and Contractors - there are occasions when those who are self-employed for tax purposes may be classified as ‘workers’ for employment rights purposes – including when a self-employed person is personally providing a service under a contract for another party to a client (i.e. not providing services directly to the client or business).  You cannot be a ‘worker’ if you are self-employed and the contract between yourself and your client includes a genuine right entitling you to ‘substitute’ someone else to do the work. See our 2014 Guide to the new ‘False’ Self-Employment legislation which affects self-employed people who are employed via intermediaries such as employment agencies, payroll or umbrella companies  (any business that supplies labour) who currently only pay taxes as a self-employed person.
  • In May 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that members of Limited Liability Partnerships are workers for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 – which gives entitlement to statutory rights and protections including to rest breaks, annual leave, part-time workers rights – and for whistleblowing protection.

In addition, there are also Home-workers (or Piece-Workers) who have more limited rights than normal ‘workers’.  See our Guide to what Employment Rights you have here.

More about Agency Workers: On 1st October 2011 the Government introduced the Agency Workers Regulations which gives ‘agency workers’ the right to equal treatment (with permanent staff working at the same organisation).  For full details of these Regulations see our new Guide to the AWR here.

At present the Employer hiring the temp (not the Agency) is responsible for ensuring the Working Time Regulations weekly hours and rest breaks entitlements are met and are responsible for the temp’s health and safety.  The Agency that employs the temp’s services is responsible for ensuring the temp takes their statutory holiday entitlement and ensuring they are paid at least the national minimum wage.

See our new Guide to Can an Agency Worker ever become an Employee here.

Self-Employed (freelancer or contractor)

You are likely to be self-employed if:

  • You determine how and when you do the work within reason (known as Master/Servant Relationship)
  • You can hire helpers or replacements for you if you are unable to do the work (also known as Substitution)
  • You pay your own tax and national insurance contributions on a self-employed basis (you complete a Self Assessment tax return)
  • You are contracted to provide services to the Client/Employer over a certain period of time for an agreed fee and are not integrated into the Company
  • You run your own business and take financial responsibility if it is successful or not, and provide the main items of equipment. You may work on your own premises.You may have several customers (employers) at one time (known as Economic Reality).

If you are self-employed your contract is called a ‘contract for service’.

If you are freelance, have you considered forming a Limited Company? When you decide to become self-employed you also have to decide what legal status your company should have – see our guide to the legal status of your company here.

See also our Guide to How to Make Sure your Contracts are IR35 proof.

There is no one single thing that completely determines your employment status

An Employment Tribunal will make a decision based on all the circumstances of the case to decide your status if there is a dispute between you and your Employer. There are four main categories they look at:

  • Control - Do you have the final say in how your business is run?; Can you choose whether to do the work yourself or can you send someone else to do it? Can you choose when and how you work (or does your employer tell you what to do and when to do it?).  In Summer 2014 an employment tribunal considered what ‘control’ means – in the context of the old self-employment legislation - in the case of Oziegbe V HRMC.  You can read the details here.
  • Integration - Are you responsible for hiring other people and setting their terms of employment if you need help? Are you excluded from your Employer’s internal organisational matters, corporate training, staff meetings? Are you exempt from having action taken against you using the company’s disciplinary procedures and have no access to their grievance procedures? Are you excluded from company benefits and perks?  If for example you lead a team of employees of your Clients you may be integrated.
  • Mutuality of Obligation - Does the Employer offer work to you only if and when it is available? Can you decide when you will work and can you turn the work down that is offered?  (or are both parties of a view that a contract of employment exists)?  An important case in May 2014 went to the Employment Appeal Tribunal to decide if someone as a worker or an employee.  In Saha v Viewpoint Field Services Ltd, Ms Saha worked as a telephone operator for a market research company.  The application form she completed in 2006 asked for her availability for 3 separate shifts each day and she was required to commit to at least 2 shifts per week.  During her work at Viewpoint the arrangement was that, each week, Ms Saha would e-mail her availability for the next week, but if the work was not available she did not work and she could cancel her availability after she had committed to work even if the work was available.  The Company referred to her as an employee and she worked between 7-43 hours per week until her position was terminated in 2012.  The Employment Tribunal however decided that she was not an employee so she could not pursue an unfair dismissal claim.  The EAT agreed because there was no obligation to provide her with work, or for Ms Saha to take work – the essential ‘mutuality of obligation’ was not there.
  • Economic Reality - Are you responsible for meeting the losses of your employment as well as taking the profits? Are you responsible for correcting unsatisfactory work at your own expense? Do you have to submit an invoice to the company for them to pay you? Do you get a fixed payment for the job (including labour and tools/materials)? Do you provide the main items of equipment needed to do the job? Do you work for a range of different employers?

However, none of these on their own will decide your status on its own.  One Judge has described it as ‘painting a picture’ of all the details and looking at the ‘picture’ from a distance.

If you answer:

  • Yes to all or most of these questions then it is more likely that you are self-employed.
  • No to all or most of these questions then you are likely to be an employee.
  • Yes to some (specifically that you can decide when you will work and can accept work or turn it down; that your employer will only offer work when it is available) but you are not in business on your own account then it is likely you would be considered a Worker.
  • These questions are a summary for guidance only and the Courts take a view of all of the tests – none will decide a case on it’s own – you should get advice from an expert if you are unsure.

The HMRC published a ‘Supervision, Direction or Control’ Guidance in March 2014 which you can see here.

A very important legal case in 2011 (Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher) has made it clear that the courts will focus on the actual reality of the working relationship (using the tests above) and not what the contractual documentation says.  More details of the case are in our article here.

And another important case in 2012 (Stringfellow v Quashie) made it clear that the Courts find  the most important factor in determining the employment relationship was the control that the Employer had over the individual, and Mutuality of Obligation was placed in a secondary position.  This decision was overturned at the Court of Appeal in 2013.  More details in our article here.


  • You can of course be employed and self-employed at the same time (you may be an employee during the day and run your own business in the evening; or take a freelance contract with one employer and your next contract is on a PAYE basis). You may also not be self-employed for every job – each job needs to be considered separately.  The HMRC can help you in these circumstances.
  • There are also occasions when, in the Film and TV Industry, you will do a job that is not on the recognised HMRC list (above) but the HMRC  if you contact them, may class you as self-employed and give you a letter of authority. The above link (guidance notes) gives details of how to do this and the letter of authority must be given to your employer.
  • If your Employer is keen that you should be freelance, but you don’t think you can be, you must tell your employer this and they should not insist that you are self-employed. If the matter was taken to Court by the HRMC, a UK Court in this instance, if you genuinely cannot be classed as self-employed as your employment looks like it has employee status, will ignore the decision that you are self-employed and your contract would have no legal bearing.
  • If the HMRC decides you are ‘deemed employed’ (i.e. you are an employee not a freelancer) then they would seek to recover the higher levels of tax due from your client, generally not from you.
  • We have a Guide to Going Freelance – the pitfalls, perils, benefits and bonuses and if you are thinking of working for yourself then this guide explains the basics of Tax.

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem, then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk  – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

Image by Tim O’Brien

  • https://www.jobsindubai.com/job_list.asp?lstIndustryID=8 Bank Jobs Dubai


  • https://www.jobsindubai.com/job_list.asp?lstIndustryID=8 Bank Jobs Dubai

    Thanks for the tips, freelance writers are indemand right now because there are lots of website owners who don't have much time to write their own things. Also I can say that it is a good way of living since a good client can last for years, meaning it will be a stable source of income.

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  • tracy-ann davies

    i no longer want to go freelance as ive earned no money so will not be needing you in future!!!

  • http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk FreelanceAdvisor

    I'm sorry to hear you've earned no money Tracy!

    I hope you find new work soon. Good luck!

  • http://www.thejaywalker.net/ Jaywalker

    Is it possible to be a permanent employee at the day time and be a freelancer on the weekends? What are the legal issues involved with that?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Jay, yes (see the last section above) that is entirely possible for a different job. You’d need to talk to the HMRC to ensure that your tax was sorted out propertly. When you say the legal issues, what else do you mean? If you want more info then please contact me at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk. Thanks, Lesley, Workline

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  • Sib

    I have been working as a freelancer for one company, and in reality been an employee without knowing. (Thanks to this article I found out!)

    I stopped working for this company three days ago, can I now claim for my paid holiday that I only just now realised I’m entitled to?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Sib, there’s not a straightforward answer to this I’m afraid, I would need more information from you. Often, freelancers are entitled to paid holiday under the Working TIme Directive legislation anyway – so it’s quite possible you are entitled anyway. Can you send me more information about how you were employed etc and I’ll see if I can give you a straight answer! E-mail me at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk. Thanks, Lesley, Workline.

  • Mcdonald

    I have worked for a London Borough in Education since 27th September 2008 and have been paid only the weeks I work.I am self-employed ,pay my own taxes and NI. I have a verbal contract and my employer provides work. Should I be eligible for holiday pay?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi, I’m going to reply to you via e-mail as I have some questions. Thanks, Lesley, Workline

  • Char

    I have been working in an Estate Agency since September 2010. On accepting the job, I received a letter stating my job title, hourly rate and days/hours that I was contracted to work for. The letter also welcomed me as part of the team and the company stated that they would provide further training in order for me to achieve my qualifications.
    Although my directors referred to me as being self employed and wanted me to pay my own tax/NI and invoice them monthly, I am now questioning whether I am actually self employed or theoretically an employee. I cannot supply anyone else in my place when I am unable to work, I am told what work needs to be done during my working hours and my work can only be carried out in the shop. Any advice would be gratefully received.

    • Lesley Furber

      hi, I’m going to reply to you by e-mail. Thanks, Lesley, Workline

  • Gsismik

    Hi i work as a freelancer and work with one major company most of the time, i can pick the jobs they give me but tend to say yes to them all. i work every week on a day to day basis and only have a verbal contract. i have worked with this company for 2 years. thye shut down for 2 weeks in summer and 2 weeks at xmas and all bank holidays leaving me with no work which means no money. I pay my own tax and nat ins. do i qualify for holiday pay?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi, have you checked your situation against all the ‘tests’ above (i guess you have?). This is very complicated, trying to decide if you are a freelancer or a worker (for the purposes of the Working TIme Directive) it will depend as well on other factors. If you can e-mail me with more information I may be able to help more. Regards, Lesley, workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.

  • Dave

    Hi.. I’ve been looking closely at IR35 and the help/tips you provide but am still stuck as to where i would fall.. My partner and I are going to represent a Hungarian firm in the UK and Ireland. They basically need help to grow their sales and coverage. We would be hired as reps/consultants and would do whatever work we saw fit to assist them in growing their market – like hiring new staff, renting office for us to work from etc and these costs would be ours to bear (i guess). We would invoice dependant upon time and success (rates would be reviewed regularly in some way). Unfortunately, they would be our only client for the foreseeable future – we need to become successful with them before we can look to expand. It feels like we come under both brackets – employed/self – but it would make more sense to me to become a limited company to have freedom for how/what we do and if/when to expand… Please help as i’m stuck!!


    • Lesley Furber

      hi Dave, I’m really sorry I’ve only just seen this query (they get sent onto me but I didn’t receive this one).  If it’s not too late I suggest you contact Crunch – http://www.crunch.co.uk/?a_aid=wrkln – Online Accountants as they can give you advice as to whether a Limited Company is appropriate in these circumstances.  Alternatively you are welcome to e-mail me if you have more questions, on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Thanks, Lesley, Workline

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  • Guest

    Great article on a difficult topic Lesley. As you know the nature of freelancing is that quite often gigs come up at very short
    notice – even same day. The situation is’nt ideal, but Freelancers need to be perceived as flexible and professional. 

    This means that there is often very little time to go
    through all these questions with the hiring manager before the work
    needs to start. Even if the customer understands it (or pretends to)
    they may rush the process because of genuine or financial pressure. So what advice would you give to avoid common pitfalls without overloading the admin and killing the relationship at a delicate early stage?

    • Lesley Furber

      Thanks!  I’m afraid you’ve asked a very broad question, so if you have any specific queries then please let me know by e-mail at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  However, the most important things you obviously need to have established (so you are ready for any work offer!) is that you know what your ‘usual’ status is and whether this is appropriate and you make sure you know what your Client thinks your ‘status’ is too – if you both want the same thing and agree on your ‘status’ then many of the problems won’t arise!  Ask your Client on what basis they are hiring you and take it from there!  Let me know if you have any further thoughts/questions.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

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  • Bamfordjcb

    Recent change to contract
    Working in retail from 10am – 4pm how long should lunch break be is there a directive on this? At the moment I get 15 mins which I feel is not long enough to leave the shop and get something hot to eat.
    Recently the canteen closed even going there the time to get something to eat break time was over

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi, I’m afraid there is no law on lunch break lengths at all.  Under the Working Time Regulations you need a 20 minute break if you work over 6 hours, so I guess this will not actually apply to you if your hours are 10am – 4pm.  Sorry I can’t give you any positive news. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Leonkocken

    Hello Lesley,
    I have a question. I have a “contract of service”, been self employed for a firm as if i am full time employed. Initially a 6 month contract than extended with a one year contract and again a one year contract. I have been with them now well over two years and likely for another 8 months. I tick all the boxes as discribed in your article that i am self employed. Now over two years, does that mean i inherit full time employment status if i ask for that? or can they still decide to no longer extend my employment and ask me to leave? How do i go about with this? Should i ask them to put me on the full time employment books with the firm so that i no lnoger have to do my self assesment?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Leon, thanks for your question – I’m going to reply to you by e-mail as I have some questions.  Thanks, Lesley, Workline

  • Jamie M

    I have started a job with a written contract, specifying this office based company will pay me x amount per hour, with working hours of 9-6. 5 days a week, I expect this arrangement to carry on for some time. They are employing me in a freelance role with 1 weeks notice, but I would be doing exactly the same work as i would if i was a permanent member of staff. What are my rights on holiday pay?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Jamie, from what you have told me above, it does sound like you should be classed as a ‘Worker’ and would therefore be entitled to holiday pay.  However, have you gone through the ‘tests’ above to determine what your status could be? If you have any more questions then please e-mail me at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Thanks, Lesley, Workline

  • confused

    I’m looking into working for an online-based company.
    On the JobCentrePlus website, it stated that I would be self-employed (therefore liable for paying all NI contributions etc). The job involves contacting small businesses and inviting them to promote their services. I will be paid an hourly rate by the firm.
    Am I technically self-employed or employed? I really want to know where I stand before I start.

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi, thanks for your comment.  I would need more information about the way this is going to work (using the criteria in the article above on how you determine your status) before I could give a full answer, but the fact that they are paying you an hourly rate sounds more like you would really be a worker.  I would need to know if you are goign to invoice them for the work done, pay tax, whose equipment and what location you would be working (their office or your home etc) and so on.  You can e-mail me at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • chris

    i’m a carpenter, i’ve been working for the same agency for the same client for over 2years on a self employed basis, i do my own tax returns and NI. am i entitled to anything? holidays etc

  • Gaz

    I’m self employed but work is quiet at the minute and i’m thinking of taking a regular job in the meantime, do i have to become un-self employed to do this, is it a hassle to organise going from a self employed to regular employment and then back to being self employed, it is only going to be for a few weeks. How would i work this with my taxes etc

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Gaz, thanks for your question.  I don’t believe it is too complicated but you do need to speak to the HMRC to tell this is what is happening, and they will organise your tax situation for you. Good luck, Lesley, Workline

  • Gilliandlugaj

    hi i am a carer i have worked for the same gentleman for 5 years i do two twenty four hr shifts i have to see to my own tax and ni contributions , i have worked same two days a wk  but now he wants me to work on  a rota which i am against am i  AM I self employed because i see to my own contributions i do not get any holiday pay and now he says i cant take hols when anyone else is off have  I any rights ,

    • Lesley Furber

      hi, I’m going to reply by e-mail as I have some questions.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Sharon poole

    im working for a company preparing food and serving customers. I work 16 hrs a wk and have worked for this company for 15 months now. I dont have a contract or receive holiday/sick pay. how do I stand with my employer. Im very confused.

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Sharon, you don’t say how you’re paid but I presume your employer deducts your tax and national insurance contributions from your pay and also whether you have the option of refusing work if you are offered it or not? These will help determine your status.  I would imagine you are a worker or an employee so are eligible for statutory entitlements to holiday and sick pay,   If you want to e-mail me I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • H2222

        Hi, I was just wandering what situation I am in? I am employed full time, 9-5.30 and I am, well from the above not self employed but an employee. The only thing is that I submit an invoice at the end of each week and my employer pays the total into my account without deduction any NI or tax. Who will be liable for the NI and tax not paid by my boss?
        any info would be much appreciated


        • Lesley Furber

          hi Hayden, I’ve replied to you by e-mail. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Carl123

    I have been working for the same double glazing company for the past 10 years, on a self-employed basis of sorts, but I am unsure whether I am actually self-employed.  I fill out a self-assessment tax form annually, but I do not invoice the company (they send me payslip with tax already deducted via PAYE), they do not deduct NI however.  I am unable to choose my work, every day work is arranged for us and I have to give at least 4 weeks notice if I require a day off.  We do not get an annual leave entitlement, but up until recently they would pay money into a holding account which we could claim when we required time off.  Last week in our pay packets we had a letter stating this would no longer be available to us.  Is this right?  Also, as I have worked for this company for 10 years, not working for anybody else (as they don’t allow this), do I have any employment rights?
    Thank you!

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Carl, from what you have described above it doesn’t sound at all like you are self-employed – I presume you’re not working through an agency or 3rd party? I don’t understand how they can deduct PAYE but not NI! You would appear to be at least a ‘worker’ if not an ‘employee’ and would therefore be entitled to holiday and this would also require your employer to consult with you if they made any changes to your terms and conditions .  I think you need to get some advice about your status, as that is key – you could start with the Citizens Advice Bureau or ACAS and see what they say. If you want to e-mail me I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Barclyz

    I have been working as a self-employed sales assistant for the same company at the same location now for more than 4 years. Subsequently I have been paying my own tax and NI. 
    I am wondering that maybe after all this time I may qualify as a ‘worker’ and I could be entitled to all the benefits such as annual leave e.t.c
    Could you please advice me if this could be the case?
    Thank you. 

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Ed, I would need to know a lot more details – if you can go through the ‘tests’ above and e-mail me, I’ll see if I can help more.  I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Sam

    hi there i am working as a takeaway deliver driver and i use my own transport and pay my own insurance. The takeaway that i work for pays me cash in hand every week, and dont pay my national insurance or tax. Im not sure if i am classed as self employed therefore have to pay tax and ni myself or does the takeaway owner have to pay?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi Sam, there’s not an easy answer to this I’m afraid – if you are genuinely self-employed (see the tests above) then you must pay your own tax and NI contributions.  If you are not genuinely self-employed then your Employer must.  Let me know if you have any questions on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Hart084

    I have been on contract for 11 months from April 2011. I was getting flexi-time (10 mins per day) for coming into work earlier and being ready for a 9.00am start, but was told last week that as I’m a temp worker I am not allowed to do flexi-time, even though all the full time employees do flexi time?? Can someone tell me if this is true and that I should be actually allowed to work flexi time as per the new AWR 2011 regulations.

    • Lesley Furber

       hi Hart, you say you’re on a contract but do you mean through an Agency, or directly employed by the Company? If you work through an Agency then you are covered by the AWR and should receive the same basic terms and conditions.  You can e-mail me at workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • David Moss101

    Is there any difference in status if you have a “Contract of Service” or a “Contract of Employment”?

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi David, no they should be the same thing (assuming you are an employee?) – an employee has a contract of service and those who are self-employed have a contract for services.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Johnhendo123

        what do i do or see at the momentive been laid off at xmas if i try to claim hollidays they will not give me any more work there not nice people but theres no work anywhere that why i stay with them

  • Johnhendo123

    hi ive been self employed for 5 year on and off for the same company they just lay me off when work runs out then take me back on then take 20 per cent out my wages for tax ive never been paid hollidays is this right

    • Lesley Furber

       hi John, they should not be taking tax off your pay if you are geniunely self-employed.  I’d need more details of your circumstances though to give you correct advice – the type of work you do, the hours you do, whether you work for anyone else etc etc etc (see all the ‘test’s above).  It sounds more like you a casual worker from what you’ve said above.  I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • John

        i work in the construction ive only worked for the 1 company 40 hours per week for 5 years on and off there have been gaps in my em ployments when work run out but ive only worked for the 1 company i am classed as self employed but get no hollidays so am i classsed as a causual worker

        • Lesley Furber

           hi John, if you were a casual worker you’d still be entitled to holidays, however if you are genuinely self-employed you may not be eligible for holidays.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Janedoveton

    Hi Lesley – this site is very helpful thanks.  I was working for a company for three years beofre I went on maternity leave.  When I came back – I was told that the company did not offer part time hours to anyone (previous staff had not returned from maternity leave because of this).  My son was very poorly and had undiagnosed asthma – so I had some issues when he was sick quite a lot.  I spoke to my employers about considering part tim ehours and was told they do not entertain these working conditions.  They then came back to me and said taht I was a good employee and they needed my work so the only way they could arrange this without upsetting the other staff who were not given part time hours was if I worked from home for 3 days a week.  I agreed to this as I needed to care for my son who was still poorly.  After some time I was questioned my tax and NI and was told that I have to register for self assessment as I was working from home.  I did this assuming they were advising me correctly as I am not familiar with UK employment law – I was not comfortable with it though but as I come from abroad and need to work as I have no access to benefits if I am unemployed.  I worked three days a week and was paid a set pay for work that they determined.  The pay and hours stayed the same even when they changed my work duites.  After 11 months they phoned me to say that business was down and with immediate effect they would not need my services.  I have never in the fours had a contract from them and feel as a vulnerable foreign worker I have been taken advantage of – desite putting my trust in them.  please advise if I am self employed as I feel as if I was pushed into a situation because I was desperate and ignorant of UK law.

    • Lesley Furber

       hi Jane, I’m going to reply to you by e-mail.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Colin

    After many years as i contractor for different companies I have just started to work for a company as a paid employee. I would like to know is it possible for me to continue to pay my own tax and NI contributions whilst as an employee?

    Thanks, Colin

    • Lesley Furber

       hi Colin, if you’re an employee then the company will take care of your tax and NI contributions on a PAYE basis.  I would think it’s unlikely you would be able to pay your own, but you can ring the HMRC for their advice.  Regards, Lesley, Workine

  • Jleel

    Hi, I’m a door to door sales person persuading people to install installation. I’m am told to work mon-sat 12-8pm under a team leader. The company say that I am self employed, if I cannot choose my location or hours does that mean I am employed? I do not get the minimum
    Wage, I earn only on leads I get from doors, I have to do my own tax and NI assessments. I also get supplied the materials to do my job and spend an hour each day in the office for evaluation.

    Could you give me advice?

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi, thanks for your message.  From what you have described it would appear you are more likely to be a worker or employee than self-employed – have you read our article about an important legal case last year (Autoclenz v Belcher) – http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/legal-advice/what-employment-status-do-i-have-your-contract-may-not-provide-the-answer/

      However, if you believe that you are an employee but your Employer does not then the only person who can make this decision for you is a Employment Tribunal – you would need to take a case to Tribunal for your ‘status’ to be decided.  Obviously that’s not a necessarily easy or pleasant thing to do.

      If you have any more questions you can e-mail me on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Lesley Furber

      Hi Sumesh, Workline is only able to offer you advice if your employment is governed by UK law.  If you are a genuine Freelancer then, once you have signed the contract, you are bound by the terms and as a Freelancer under UK law you have very few employment rights.  Unless the contract you have signed says that you are due to be paid if there is no work then it very unlikely there is anything you can do about this.  I would advise you to talk to them about it.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Blackat69

    Hi Id like some information please. I currently work for a company as a solar canvessorI was told at my interveiw that it was a self employed position and that I was responcible for paying my own tax and NI.

     When I first started I was told that as long as I worked a minimum of four 4 and half hour shifts that would be fine. I was told that I was expected to get at least 4 ‘ BITES’ an hour. For the last 2 week Ive been falling short of this target but the ‘BITES’I have got have converted into appointments and pitches and I have achived my target of 1 pitch per 10 hours worked . yesteerday I was sent home 3 hours into my shift because I hadnt achived my hourly  bite target. i also found out that for the 3 hours I did worked  I wouldnt get paid. today I worked and achive exactly the same bite level in 3 threes as yesterday but wasnt sent home. What is my employment statues and can the company legaly treat people like this.

    • Lesley Furber

      hi, thanks for your message.  From what you have briefly described you are being set targets which may indicate you are more an employee than anything else – have you gone through the ‘tests’ in the article above in detail?  If you can do that you will be nearer to knowing – however, unfortunately, only an Employment Tribunal can make a decision about your actual ‘status’ if you don’t believe you are genuinely self-employed.  As regards being sent home/not being paid etc, the answer is going to depend on what employment ‘status’ you have and also on what your contract of employment says about those things.  If you want to e-mail me I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Jamesbr34

    Hi I ve been working as  a freelance for more than 6 years for the same company.Doing about 4 days a week.
    what s are my rights?
    Should the company pay my Holiday?
    Should i suppose to have the same rights of an employ?

    • Lesley Furber

      hi James, have you run through all the tests in the article above, you need to do that to understand more whether you are a genuine freelancer or not.  If you have any questions after that please e-mail me at worline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Suzie

    Hi I am employed by a UK recruitment company as a contractor for a UK company whose head office is based in Eire.  I was employed for 6 months and then moved to a rolling 3 month contract.  I have now been told that under EU directives I have to leave if they cannot offer me a role within 12 months and they could not rehire me for another 6-8 weeks.  I have read the the UK Agency Workers Directive and glanced at the DIRECTIVE 2008/104/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 November 2008 on temporary works and neither of them mention a 12 month period restriction only the 12 week period before entitlement of similar employee rights.  Is this something you can help me with.


    • Lesley Furber

      Hi Suzie, I’ve got some questions so I’m going to e-mail you.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Rosemary H

         Hi Lesley

        I have a similar question, I’ve been freelancing at a marketing company for 6 months and they would like me to stay on for another 6 months – can I do this? Is there a limit to how long you can stay at one company freelancing.


        • Lesley Furber

          Hi Rosemary this is partly going to depend on whether you are a ‘genuine’ freelancer and also on what the HMRC’s view is of how long people can be freelance in specific jobs/industries.  It might be worth having a rummage round the HMRC’s website to see if you can find any advice specific to your job/industry,relating to limits on freelance work.  If you want to e-mail me I’m on workline@freelanceadvisor.co.uk.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Liz

    What information do I have to include on an invoice as a freelance magician? Do I have to include my private home address?
    I don’t actually perform any work at home as all work is completed at the clients place of business. I would prefer to keep my home address private and not include it on invoices. I will be emailing all invoices. Also, I will only accept payment by BACS or PAYPAL so don’t see the need to share my private home address. I have no need for business premises, and would prefer not to waste money on renting a virtual business address as all my written correspondence is done by email.
    Currently I include my email and tel no as my contact details. I am just starting up, so any advice is appreciated.

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi Liz, see this information here -  http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/invoice-templates/

      Most companies would normally want an address though.  If you search through the Freelance Advisor website for ‘invoices’ you will find a lot more information.
      Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Hidalgo


    If you are a permanent employee in a company, can you start up your new business, i’m thinking of starting a new business or offer freelancing work to other companies but don’t want to leave my current job at this stage.

    What changes happens to your tax (as currently it is dealt by the company payroll) and what do I need to do ?


    • Lesley Furber

      Hi, yes you can have your own business (be freelance/sole-trader)  and be a PAYE employee too.  You need to speak to the HMRC as you would need to register as self-employed and they will explain what happens to your tax and NI contributions.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Brave

    Hi am living in Dubai and I am full time employed. Can I work as well for another company as a freelancer (Hostess, Promotion) eg. on weekends or evenings? Is there a limit of earning money? And how can I apply for freelancing. Thank you for your help.

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi Brave, I can’t help you I’m afraid, Workline can only answer queries about UK employment law.  Good luck and regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Hmodha

    Hi Colin,

    I am an IT manager of a company and get paid under PAYE, a few years ago when the recession hit our company changed it’s policy not to pay for any overtime work. I am also a qualified accountant and decided to set up my own company with the blessings of my current employers to provide IT Consultancy and other services, I provide my services to other clients and as well provide out of hours IT services to my current employers for which I charge through my company. My question is would I come under IR35. As it is a new business the turnover split is 1:3 but which i hope will change in the next few years as I advertise and promote my company.

    All advise is highly appreciated


  • Hmodha

    Sorry Leslie just notice I referenced my comment to Colin

  • VL

    Hi there,

    I wonder if you can help clarify my situation and what rights I have (better late than never…)

    In 2010 I went from being a full time, permanent employee (of 6 years) to self-employed, although still working solely for the same company. The reason being I moved about 100miles away from my place of work, and rather than lose me, they offered me the option to work from home. (There is another person in the company who works from home but they are still employed on a full time, permanent basis. At the time I had asked if I could do the same but was told I would have to resign and become self-employed if I wanted to work from home.)

    I had to hand in my notice and had 1 x week gap between permanent employment and becoming self employed.

    I have a written contract stating that I must work 4 days a week minimum.
    I can claim the 5th day as a day rate or accrue for use as holiday. I can also claim an hourly rate for any overtime worked. I also do weekend work as required by the company.
    Work provides my laptop and any work that they want me to do (they pay towards my mobile contract and internet costs when at home)
    I invoice the same base amount monthly.
    I pay my own tax / national insurance.
    I do not get luncheon vouchers or any bonus like I used to.
    I am expected to attend staff conferences, staff fun events (eg christmas do / company’s 40th birthday party)

    I must also point out that my job hasn’t changed at all during this time. I am still doing the work I did as a full time, permanent employee. Even if I had another client, I wouldn’t have the time to complete any other work.
    I have the feeling that I have been a little naive and have lost out in the company’s quest to reduce head count/expenses.

    • Lesley Furber

      Hi, I’m going to reply by e-mail.  Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Rupal

    I had been working for a company from June 2004 to September 2010. From October 10 Company has assigned me project and paying me same fees (as self employed) which I was receiving previously.
    My hours, nature of work, accomodation, equipment everything is provided by Company.
    What would be my status, employee or self-employed ?

    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi Rupal, it sounds from what you have described that you are more likely to be an employee – but you need to go through the ‘tests’ above to determine this more closely. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • steffie

    hi, i have a question, can a company make thier exsisting employees to self employed in time for the next tax year?

    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi Steffie, well probably not unless they are genuinely self-employed. It’s a complicated question and there are lots of variables so if you want more information you can e-mail me at lesley@workline.org.uk. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • David Wheatley


    I work as a courier, the company calls us self employed, but I don’t see
    how I am self employed & don’t get any benefits of being an employee! I
    just had my first holiday since 2007 and lost a weeks pay for it and now
    have to work 2 weeks before I get paid again.

    I am told what time I need to start (no later than 5.30am) I am told
    what to deliver, when to do it, almost the order to do it. I have just
    had a route change that will now mean working through form my start
    time, until I finish – which could be 2-2.30pm (that’s anything up to
    9hrs) Then start collections at around 3.30pm that goes on until around
    6.30 – again these are all timed, and can’t be missed.

    How is that self employed? I can’t work for anyone else, I pay for my
    own vehicle, fuel, insurance, sort out my own income tax etc. If I
    complain about the hours/job I am reminded that there are plenty of
    people out of work that they could replace me with.

    I am so stressed and feeling ill. I have tried for many jobs but so far
    found nothing – I can’t even get ‘time off’ for an interview. I would
    have to try and get it for my break in the day. If I quit I am not
    entitled to any help from anyone or be able to claim benefits.

    Surely something needs to be done about this sort of employer, this
    can’t be right.

    Not to mention the extra loss on fuel I now have to bear.


    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi David thanks for your comment. If you are a genuine employee rather than self-employed, which it sounds like you are, then only a Court that could approve your status.

      I’m afraid that if your Employer is acting inproperly then the onus is on you to prove that by taking a case against them to a Court (or if you were a member of a Trade Union they may be able to help you with this) – that is the way it works with the law I’m afraid.

      Good luck in resolving this problem. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003963949867 Joe Smith

        Hi I am having same problem as David, could it be we both work for same company?? I work for DX, if I took them to Court I be out of a job wether I win or not, they dont deal with trade unions

  • Sean Rathbone


    I worked through an employment agency on a major civil engineering project (new road/bypass) from October 2009 until September 2011, this was a full time position working for one company based in the same office for the duration of the contract. The agency told me I would have to be self employed or they would give the job to someone else, so had little choice but to accept.

    I was paid weekly in arrears and the agency deducted my tax at source, although the contract I received stated I was responsible for paying tax myself? The contract refers to me as (“the CIS Operative”) and states “The CIS Operative shall not be entitled to paid annual leave or any sick pay (statutory or otherwise) in respect of periods of absence due to ill health.” and also states “The CIS Operative shall not be entitled to charge the Employment Business (agency) in respect of any and all time spent travelling to the Client’s premises, lunch breaks and other rest breaks.”

    It would appear to me that I was not truly self employed but I’m by no means an expert on such matters, during the contract I received no holiday pay at all and I’ve been wondering if I should have been entitled to it? The site closed down for a week at Easter and two weeks at Christmas.

    There were also periods during winter where the the site was closed down due to inclement weather on safety grounds for which I received no pay, should I have been paid for this?

    Many thanks if you’ve taken the time to read this, as I say I’m by no means an expert and would appreciate any help or advice you may offer! Sean.

    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi, I’m going to reply to you by e-mail. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Sean Rathbone

        Thanks Lesley

        • Lesley Furber, Workline

          Hi Sean, I’ve just e-mailed you now. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Sean Rathbone

        Hi Lesley, received no email as yet, wondering if it’s gone to wrong address?

  • chloe

    Hi i have worked for the university for 9 years recently i had booked annual leave 1 week a holiday and the other to settle my child into school as soon as i recieved the letter from the school i emailed my line manager to ask for more time off she replied can we have a chat in my office i discussed with her that i had no childcare in place untill he had settle in school she said i had no annual leave left to take for this year but i could use holidays from next years entitlement as we got new ones a week after i left the meeting thinking she had approved my time off i returned to work to discover i had been suspended and now i have to attend a disaplinary hearing the outcome being dismissal

    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi Chloe, when you go to the disciplinary hearing make sure you take (or have already given them) the e-mail to your line manager asking for the extra time off. And explain the conversation you had with your Manager. In the circumstances you describe it would appear harsh that dismissal would be the outcome. Are there normal leave ‘booking’ procedures that you followed, i.e filled out a form etc? At the disciplinary hearing is your chance to put your side of the story across and you have a right of appeal if you are unhappy with the outcome of the hearing. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Nigel

    Hi could you please tell me meaning of this which is on a job specification I am interested in ?
    ?? salary per annum which includes 10.77% for holiday pay in accordance with the Working time regulations.
    Many thanks

    • Lesley Furber, Workline

      Hi Nigel, it’s a way of expressing that the pay includes an element to cover your statutory holiday entitlement and is often used where jobs are casual/short term and you may not have time to take the holiday entitlement you are owed. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • HB

    Can sole traders be caught under IR35? For example if I decided to freelance at a design agency I could potentially work there for years if the work was there. As long as I filled in the self assessment and paid my NI and Tax is that okay?

    • lesleyfurber

      hi HB, if you are a sole-trader and not working at the agency through any third party then you would not be caught under IR35. However, if you were working as a sole trader at the design agency doing the same job, full-time, for a long period of time the HMRC may not regard you as self-employed at all but as an employee. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • HB

        Thanks Lesley, I’ve always been on PAYE and there is so much information on this subject that its mind boggling. I see what you mean as being regarded as an employee. If I do work at the agency for a while it may be worth asking to become an employee? If They dont want to make me an employee am I right in thinking it is the agency who will be liable as they have not paid their contributions? Just want to know where i would stand if this situation arose in the future. Thanks again HB

        • lesleyfurber

          HI HB, you’re confusing me slightly now, as your’e talking about being on PAYE which would not make you freelance. Are you workign through an agency? And are you PAYE not freelance? If you can reply by e-mail with the full details of your situation that would be great. Thanks, Lesley, Workline

  • George

    The owner of a private college, run as a limited company in London, contracts
    lecturing staff to deliver course material and pays, eventually, on invoice.
    However, it is understood by all of the lecturing staff, that in order to
    lecture for the college, they are required to do regular voluntary hours in
    administration, for which there is no formal contract, no expenses, no notice
    period etc. Without the requirement to ‘volunteer’ being satisfied, the privilege
    of lecturing is withdrawn.

    I am concerned that this is not only exploitative, but
    potentially illegal, as there are no provisions for pension etc, and the director
    of company hides behind the fact that the work done as admin staff is voluntary
    to avoid employer’s liabilities. This business has been going for a number of years, and this arrangement predates IR35 rules, though I don’t know if they apply.

    Please can you advise on the legality of this situation, as well as the possible tax implications for those involved?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi George, I’m going to reply by e-mail as I have some questions. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Debbie

    Hi. I am a freelancer and started a job at the beginning of November. My contract states that i have to give 1 months notice of termination and the Company I work for only has to give 1 week. My question is, if I handed my notice in now, can the company I work for then give me one weeks notice?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Debbie, yes I guess they could give you counter-notice if you handed your notice in. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • William C

    Hi, I hope you can help me. I have been working as a genuine freelancer for 6 months full time. I have recently asked for holiday and my employer has tried to deny it to me. I have reached a point whereby I have been many extra hours and not been paid and every weekend since I started (I have Mondays and Tuesdays off) and I feel like the only option is to leave the job. The pay is base rate minimum and I have never had any benefits. Can you tell me whether having been working for the same employer for such a length of time is still classed as freelance? And also, if I was to leave immediately, would my employer still have to pay the entire amount owed to me? In other words, do I need to give any notice? Many Thanks, great website!

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi William, if you are a genuine freelancer and not a ‘worker’ for the purposes of the Working Time Regulations then you would not be entitled to holiday. I’m afraid that 6 months would generally not be long enough to stop you being a genuine freelancer (you can do a job as a genuine freelancer for longer than that, there is no defined period). You need to look at all the tests above to determine what your likely ‘status’ is. If you do not have a contract and are genuinely freelance then you would not be required by law to give a minimum period of notice (or receive a minimum period of notice). Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • classic

    On the 27 of February I called in to meet with my employers
    about an issue about my work provided car being removed from my driveway whilst
    off work with ‘work related stress (on amytriptilene). I called into the office
    to be met with a very angry partner accusing me of theft and embezelment. He
    threatened police action unless I resigned immediately. I advised this person I
    was on medication and couldn’t think straight and that I thought this meeting
    was to discuss the car. Paperwork was thrust at me and I was asked to explain
    why my weekly salary figures sometime showed an increase. I tried to explain
    that this was due to work being done at home. The partner demanded to know who
    gave authorisation for these payments as all extra hours were to be taken as
    hours in lieu. I replied you know I take work home.

    The partner then said right either the police or I am
    turning this into an investigatory meeting. I replied you must do what you feel
    you must do.

    THE General Manager appeared in the office to take notes.

    The accusations were made again, I replied I do not feel
    able to continue with this meeting whilst under the effects of the medication I
    am taking and think that with these accusations I need representation. I was
    told no. The partners anger continued as he kept asking who authorised payment,
    I replied that all I can say is that I didn’t get weekly authorisation and couldn’t
    remember anything else other than the same procedure had been followed for

    The meeting was concluded, I asked for a copy of the notes
    then was told I was suspended and being escorted from the building, just before
    I left I was asked for my keys.

    Since that date I haven’t heard anything until today when
    the car was returned. I said to the partner could he tell me what was going on,
    first my car goes then it comes back, I was involved in a meeting and received
    no notes (as yet) and I have a doctors appointment Tuesday if passed fit can I
    return to work Wednesday. The response was no , you will get a letter in a day or

    May I close in saying that a memo was issued in I think 2007
    saying that all lieu hours earned would not be accrued but paid.
    That I am the highest ranked employee only the employers are above me on status
    That my position at work is Accountant and I would authorise any additional payments
    that would be made. I am/was a signatory on all bank accounts. Am authorised to
    agree contracts of tens of thousands of pounds. In the 12 years I was employed
    not once has a partner signed my timesheet, made a weekly authorisation on or
    about the outcome of my responsibilities.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi, I’m going to reply by e-mail as I have some questions. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Aniya

    hello, i have been employed by a limited company for 6 years. however, i use my own car, but have it painted in the company colours and wear the company uniform. i pay my own tax and NI. i was off sick and i could substitute my own driver. i am allowed 28 days holiday a year and was paid 2 weeks sick pay last year. i am totally confused of my actual employment status and they are being very unclear and avoiding my questions. i have looked at the tests above but i am still confused. please help :s thank you

    • lesleyfurber

      hi Aniya, thanks for your message. I can see why you’re confused – half of what you say would make you a freelancer and the other a worker! Is there a particular reason why you want clarification? As I’m afraid only an Employment Tribunal can actually determine your status completely – and you would only go to a Tribunal if you were unhappy with a lack of benefits or rights generally. Regards for now, Lesley, Workline

  • Hary

    Dear Lesley.

    I have been working for several years as a freelance teacher for the same company.
    This year I agreed to teach 3 months in spring and 3 months in autumn.
    Therefore I am about 6 months without any income.
    Am I allowed to teach for other institutions or privately during this period? The company I am freelancing for at the moment commented that it would be a conflict of interest if I teach anybody else or for any other school.
    This was expressed verbally only.

    Strangely enough, one of the paragraphs in my contract states that I do have to offer the same services to other companies and that the school I am currently working for cannot be my only client.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you. Hary

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Hary, thanks for your message. I don’t think it could be right for the company to restrict you from teaching at other places during the periods you are not working with them. Such clauses are called ‘restrictive covenants’ and they must be reasonable. I’m not surprised your contract states that you need to offer services to other companies as this would imply you are a genuine freelancer and not an employee or worker. The company are clearly giving you mixed messages and I would ask them again for clarification of this, pointing out the wording in your contract. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Bill

    Hi Lesley,

    I have been working as a freelancer for a large company for just over three years. I have not had other clients during that time and with the exception of a week’s holiday here and there, I have worked for them continuously during that time. I have completed self assessment tax returns for this period. It looks like I will be offered a permanent position with the same company in the next month or so. Am I able to ask that my start date reflect the fact that I have worked here for three years or am I ‘set back to zero’ when I become an employee?

    Thanks in advance,


    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Bill, you can ask, but it is not likely to be agreed to. If your service was backdated to the date you originally started working for them then this could cause complications with your tax and if the HMRC decided you had been an employee all this time then both you and your Employer may be liable for unpaid tax and NI contributions. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • skyfall162

    Hello Lesley

    I wonder if you could clarify some things for me regarding employment status.

    I have worked as a temp for the same end client for 14 years now and am having difficulty in understanding what (if anything) I can do as the shift I worked has now been closed and all perms made redundant.

    The set up I worked varied over the years.

    1st set up was: Ltd Co > temp agency > end client

    2nd set up was: Ltd Co > temp agency > in-house temp agency > end client

    The in-house temp agency used by end client were so bad at payroll that I remained as a Ltd Co rather than switch to working directly through them.

    After IR35 came into effect:

    3rd set up was: Umbrella No 1 > temp agency > 2nd in-house temp agency > end client

    4th and final set up was: Umbrella No 2 > temp agency > 2nd in-house temp agency > end client

    The contractor payroll co. (been with them since 2000) stated that AWR rules required every temp to have their own umbrella Co or else people risked not being paid. This 2nd umbrella co has been in existence less than two years.

    I have scoured the net and come up with conflicting info and what status I am. “Section 230(1) of the Employment Rights Act 1996, states that an employee is someone who works under a contract of employment (which I do for the umbrella). This, however, is not defined by statute so the courts have
    constructed a number of tests to help them decide whether someone is an employee” (Thompsons solicitors, 2013).

    The umbrella co is technically my employer because

    1: The individual has to have a contract with the employer – I do (the umbrella)
    2: The individual has to carry out the work personally – I do (but the umbrella co know nothing about me or what I do, the end client certainly does not expect another person to turn up to do my

    BUT It then fails the court constructed tests (I beleive) since:
    3. There has to be “mutuality of obligation” between the two parties – (The umbrella has none they are
    payroll only)
    4. The employer has to have “control” over the work that the employee does – (umbrella has no contact with me or end client or either of the temp agencies. I submit invoices only – they don’t even know who the end client is!)

    With regard to the end client of 14 years: same core shift – with changes negotiated directly with end client mgmt – never with temping agencies or umbrella. This included shift hours, holidays requests, holiday and
    sickness cover often at very short notice. All conducted either as verbal conversation/email/telephone calls so could this be considered perhaps under Dacas v Brook Street Bureau (UK) Ltd (2004, IRLR 358)?

    Basically I need to understand if there any way to claim some kind of redundancy money from either of these parties due to the time and/or nature of the relationships?


    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Skyfall, thanks for your message. Wow! I think the best thing you can do is talk to ACAS to see if you have a claim at Employment Tribunal to claim ‘employee’ status. The fact that you have an employment contract now with the umbrella company would go against you I think – but it would certainly be worth finding out if a claim is possible. I would think the Tribunal would look at all your 4 ‘statuses’ individually. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • skyfall162

        Thanks for getting back so quickly Lesley.

        Alas the ACAS person I spoke to didn’t seem to understand it so couldn’t offer advice. They
        basically said ‘you need to find out who your employer is and then come back to us’. None of the entities along the way is particularly helpful as they are payroll functions only and want to avoid an AWR liability.

        I didn’t realise that each status could/would (?) be considered separately – or think it possible to retrospectively argue each individually period – I was under the impression the whole 14 years was the argument as it is the same end client each time in the same job.

        It really is frustrating because of course you never think about it when you are just plodding off to the same end client for years on end. I wasn’t in a union either (UNITE seems to be the ‘non-specific profession’ union to sign up to).

        I am grateful for your insights.



  • Sarah

    Hi Lesley, I am an employee of a charity and work 1 day a week doing a project around volunteering. I have also started on a freelance basis providing training and other one off services for the organisation. I would like to be able to provide these services for other organisations but do not have these contacts yet and am not likely to for the near future. Can I set up as a sole trader and invoice for these other services or am I an employee still… bearing in mind the work I am doing is paid at a different rate, is for different people and is not something I provide in my usual contracted hours. I do use their materials though, eg photocopier, company email address…. So my question I guess is can I do it now? And if I can’t do it now, what do I need to set up to be able to do it in future?

    • Sarah

      Sorry I’m not sure I was being very clear…. the real question I think is can I be employed and work as a freelance trainer for the same organisation?

      • lesleyfurber

        Hi Sarah, yes that should not be a problem if it is completely different work. You can be self-employed and employed at the same time. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Hana

    Hi i work for company for 4 yrs as employee and aditional 3 yrs as self employed as they have changed me to self employeed i was doing same job as before and they were paying my expenses travel fees I was not entitled to deal with no other customer or client would this cout as employment job or self employed? Should i be entitled to satelment from company after ending my employment?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Hana, it could possibly be that you were still an ‘employee’ if you were doing the same job – have you looked at all the ‘tests’ above? If you think you were really an employee, rather than self-employed, then you would need to go to an Employment Tribunal for them to make the decision as to your ‘status’ and see if you had not received any rights/benefits you may have been entitled to if you were an employee. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Sarah

    My husband has worked for the same company for 6 years. He has been paid monthly when he invoices them and he has paid his own tax and NI. Is he actually employed rather than self-employed?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Sarah, from what you’ve described he sounds like he’s self-employed, but you can run through the ‘tests’ above which will give you a clearer idea. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Bill

    Hi guys, looking for some advice.

    I work full time in a creative media company but looking to do some freelance work on the side for myself. The freelance work isn’t directly related to my employer, yet I understand its ‘frowned upon’ to do something similar outside of work in any creative type role. So I’m researching into registering self employed now and if going ahead, keeping it to myself just chase.

    Something to note, all contracts at my work are being renewed at the moment so I still don’t know my boundaries if any.

    My question is, when registering self employed, is there a way my employer can see this? Does my tax code change? Or is employment and self employment to separate things?


    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Bill, as far as I know your self-employment should not affect your full-time tax code, but it might be worth checking this with the HMRC. When you register as self-employed you complete an annual tax return; and you can be both self-employed and employed. I would be careful though and check your employment contract, as most employers will want to know if you are doing work elsewhere and approve this. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • disqus_vO8xQDiglD

    Hi – hoping you can help – I have recently taken redundancy from a company and under the terms of the package/tax man I have agreed not to work directly for them for 12months. However there is work available with them on a contract/freelance basis. Can I work for a 3rd party staffing company and do the work withot compromising my redundacy package? Thanks in advance.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi, yes you could but you would still need a break before being employed in a different capacity (especially if it is in the same job) – although you would not need a 12 month break. You need to ask the company how long a break they would require. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • neil haggar

    I have worked for one company for 17 years, 5 days a week. I have been working as a self employed sub contractor, although the company website states they employ their own staff and not sub contractors. I have received no holiday pay, ever, or paid bank holidays, or sick pay.
    I cannot work elsewhere all the time he has work. I cannot send anyone else to do my job for me if i want to be elsewhere. He has a price list of fitting rates that are not negotiable. I do not fill out an invoice as such, i fill out a timesheet, using his pricing list.
    I was recently fired, with no written or verbal warnings, and went to the job center to sign on (the first time in over 30 years) for job seekers. I was told i was not eligible as i am self employed. Well, since then, i have been told by numerous people, (citizens advice) that i must surely have been “Employed”. I cant be self employed if i work for one employer. Could someone clarify that this must be the case, as i am thinking of getting a solicitor to take this to court, for wrongful dismissal, unpaid holidays and possibly redundancy pay.
    Thanks in advance.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Neil, from what you have described it does appear that you may have been an employee. However, only a Court can decide this so yes I think the best thing to do would be to take a case to Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal/employee rights such as holiday etc. You could ring ACAS for their advice before you put in a Tribunal claim, but you should move quickly as there is normally a 3 month time limit on bringing cases to Tribunal. Good luck with this. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Paula Thomas

    Hi, I wonder if anyone can help. I was made redundant last year and have now taken a position which is employed but part time hours. For the remainder of the week I am going to be working for 2 other companies
    on a self employed basis. I will be doing reasonably the same hours each month for the other 2. As I am a bookkeeper and cannot substitute when not available is there a grey area as to my being self employed and if I were to form a limited company wherby I invoice each month would that sort out any misunderstandings with the revenue.
    Thank you

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Paula, I doubt it would matter that you will be doing the same hours, as you have several ‘clients’. You need to look at all the status’tests’ together and consider the overall picture. Forming a limited company would not protect you if you are not genuinely self-employed. If you are self-employed by the other 2 companies you would normally invoice them for your services anyway. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Karen

    My husband ‘works’ as a self employer courier for a secure mailing company. He is only contracted to this one company as they do not permit him to be contracted to any others due to conflict of interest. The company tell him what he must & must not do in regard to when it is safe to leave a parcel/obtain a signature etc. The company ‘hire’ him a handheld pc to complete the delivers for that day. The vehicle used is his own and fuels etc is paid for by himself. The company have now stated that windows cannot be left open to allow air to circulate for risk of theft of delivery items. When completing in region of 80 deliveries per day,it is difficult to manually open & close the window for each delivery. In the current heat, temperatures are registering 27 degrees which my husband says is unbearable and making him feel ill. There are regulations and recommendations for transporting animals during hot weather and regulations/recommendations for employees. Are there any regulations for self employed/contractors at all? If found to have windows open it is an instant dismissal. Any advise welcome, thanks.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Karen, freelancers/contractors are also covered by Health and Safety Laws…. I’m not too familiar with H&S so it might be worth taking a look at the HSE website – as far as I’m aware there is no law about work-place temperatures just recommendations (but I don’t know about vehicles). Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • anna

    for freelancers what is the least amount they can work without getting caught by the government i guess a loop hole of some sort?

    • lesleyfurber

      hi Anna, I’m afraid I don’t understand your question. If you are freelance you should be registered as such with the HMRC (you can be freelance and employed at the same time). Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Guy

    Hi Lesley,

    I work on 6 month fixed contracts for a large company in the Broadcasting industry. I also do freelance work for another company during my holidays. Both companies pay me via BACS and tax me at source. However, the company I work freelance for has now said they want me to be registered self-employed and have asked for a “Lorimer” letter. Do you think I can register self-employed despite having a full time, fixed contract job? Do you think HMRC are likely to issue me with a Lorimer letter as I’ve only worked for 1 company on a freelance basis in the past 2 months.

    Many Thanks,


    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Guy, yes you can register as self-employed and be PAYE also at the same time. You are aware of the HMRC’s list of who can be freelance in the UK Broadcasting Industry – more details are here – http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/legal-advice/who-can-have-self-employed-status-in-the-film-television-and-production-industries/

      This advice talks about ’7 day rule’ letters, which I guess are the same as a ‘lorimer’ letter (but I’m afraid I don’t know). The best thing to do would be to call the HMRC, as if they say no you are not eligible for a lorimer letter then you will not be able to get one. The details of the HMRC Broadcasting units are in that article too.

      Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Guy

        Thanks for your help

  • Gary Gibson

    Hi. My wife works as an interpreter for the NHS*, and has been informed by them on numerous occasions that she is self-employed. She works irregular hours, as and when she is needed, so her income tends to fluctuate quite a bit.

    However, she receives a monthly document that shows how much she has been paid, and how much income tax has been prior deducted from her pay. She also gets her travel expenses paid for. She receives an annual P60 that details income, and tax deducted from pay, by the NHS. This suggests to me, particularly by the criteria above, that she is in fact employed, and not self-employed, since her tax has already been deducted from source. Have I got this right?

    (*although not exclusively – she does a very small amount of interpreting work for another private company on an entirely freelance basis.)

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Gary, thanks for your message. From what you have described it would appear she is a ‘worker’ and not self-employed (but not an employee either). Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Pete

    Hi, please could you possibly offer some advise? I am an electricians mate and have been working for the same company for between 3-4 years. He always clarifies I am self employed because if there is no work I don’t get work thus no pay (obviously), and thus no holiday/sick/etc pay, just a day rate. However I work on average at least a few days a week if not full time. I have no choice as to how/where the jobs are, he just says ‘Monday you are here, Tuesday here etc’, and provides me with tools and equipment. I have done the occasional day here and there for his fathers company too, which he says shows I’m self employed.
    Literally yesterday he called to say he was not going to be giving me any more work as the jobs he is now going for, need other people with other qualifications, no notice, just effective immediately. I know if I’m self employed he can do that, but was I self-employed?
    Many thanks,

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Pete, have you looked at all the ‘tests’ above? Did he ever say to you that you couldn’t work elsewhere/for anyone else (apart from his father’s company!)? If you believe you were an employee more than self-employed then you would need to take him to an Employment Tribunal to clarify your ‘status’ and that would tell you whether you had rights to unfair dismissal/holiday/sickness etc. It might be something you want to do, as you may not have much to lose – details about tribunals are here – http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/go-freelance-guide/employment-tribunals-your-rights/
      Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Pete

        Thanks Lesley. No he hasn’t said I can’t work elsewhere. It is frowned upon and I do have to let him know if I want days off. I invoice him monthly with the days I work to get pay and he pays the tax, deducting if off my total wage. There are no contracts to say ‘do you wish to work on this job?’ Its literally ‘can you work tommorrow threw till thursday?’ and during the day ive had to phone through to him to say id finished A certain job, then he sends me on to whatever other Jobs he needs doing that day. I could also be working from 6am to 7pm some days because he says he just has ‘day rates’ but there is no contract to say what the hours are. I’ve also had major accidents at work that I’ve just been sent home from but told I couldn’t have sick pay obviously. Do you think I would have any rights?

        • lesleyfurber

          Hi Pete, if he’s paying your tax then he’s treating you like an employee in that respect (but not in any other respect). I think it would be worth your pursuing this at Tribunal to see if they would agree you have employee status. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Christopher McKee

    Hi Lesley. Thank you for the wealth on information on the site – great work…
    Can I please get your advice on the following; I am just about to launch my new venture and desperately need to find correct legal advice on how I can employ the staff that I will contract as part of that business. In short I will provide self employed contractors to a client who will require a number of staff from me. These contractors will predominantly work in the entertainment industry as freelance technicians. They will invoice me and I will recharge the client. All freelances will work many varying hours and shifts on a very temporary/short term basis. I really need to know if I can provide all freelances as self employed (they invoice me) to the client or whether they need to become workers/employees (and go on a PAYE scheme) of my company. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, Christopher

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Christopher, I’m going to e-mail you as I have some questions. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Simon

    Hi Lesley
    I work as a self employed security officer , the company I work for has a client who is currently employing and I would like to apply as the rate and work load is greater , the company I am working for says I signed a contract to say I wouldn’t work for any of there clients for five years after I hand in my notice, if I’m self employed how can they have any say in who I work for as surely I am freelance and my own boss
    Help is this legal and likely to be enforced

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Simon, you’re talking about a restrictive covenant (stopping you working for a competitor) which is usual in an employee contract but often found in a freelance contract too; it is put there to protect the company’s business. Restrictive covenants can be enforceable at Court (your current company would have to take an injunction out on you), but, the Court will look at whether the clause is reasonable, as you basically have a right to work/earn money… and I would think they would consider that 5 years is far too long… a few months may be enforceable but 5 years is very unlikely. You may want to take some legal advice on this before you make a move – it’s going to depend obviously how likely your current employer is to pursue legal action against you. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • anne

    As a self-employed person after 12 month’s working without giving any
    reason to doubt his honesty a friend has been told that he is no longer needed due to unfounded and wrongful suspicions of theft. Does he have any recourse?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Anne, I’m really sorry but I have only just seen this message. It’s unlikely but it would be worth checking his contract (if he had one) to look at the termination provisions in it. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Peter

    Hi Lesley I’m looking a employing a person on a self employed bases, what way can I pay them with out them being classed as employed?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Peter, I’m going to reply by e-mail. Sorry for the delay but I didn’t see this message until today. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • crystal

    Was wondering if you could help me understand my husbands status please. He’s just signed up to an agency and they’ve said they will pay him his wages but he’s been told that he’ll be self employed and has to pay an 8% fee to a company to manage his tax and ni contributions. He can’t set his own pay rate, hours and wouldn’t be responsible for anything other than just turning up and doing his 8 hour night shift. Is he entitled to holiday leave & pay, sick leave/pay and also paternity leave & pay? Also this company who he’ll be paying 8% of his weekly wage to has given him the forms to fill out to register for self assessment but we haven’t a clue what to do but they want an additional fee to help him. Please help :)

  • ADR


    Can anyone advise me on my status? It’s a little confused in some ways but clear as bell when you step back and look at it.

    I have been editor of a magazine that I started for a UK publisher 17 years ago.

    This position has been my sole source of income and I’ve been every month for this work since 1996.

    Some time around 2007 the small publishers I started the magazine for were bought out by a large publishing group.

    Since I am not from the UK (though I have citizenship and UK passport etc.) I has been preparing to move myself and my family back to our home overseas when news of the take-over came through. Our move had all been arranged by that stage both at the family end and with my (now previous) employer.

    The new owners didn’t like it but could not stop it.

    After the reluctantly accepted that I was going be working remotely (which I was anyway, btw, but previously it was remote within the UK), the head of accounts came to me with an offer: would I like to get paid in dollars or pounds? If I got paid in dollars it would mean I could also have the option of being paid through freelancer channels so I could then avoid paying UK tax, and incidentally, the company could avoid paying my social security, National Insurance etc.

    I was wary of this but agreed only if it meant the company continued to recognize me as an employee, not a freelancer and the 10+ years (at the time) I’d dedicated to the title would be honored if they should decide to close the magazine or otherwise make me redundant.

    They agreed verbally – they assured me verbally. I asked several times for written agreements but the line manager I was asking literally said ‘don’t bother. They have such heavy duty lawyers on the board that if they want renege on this agreement a piece of paper won’t make any difference whatsoever. Foolishly I agreed.

    Since then I have been overseas but continually receiving all the emails for employees, about Xmas parties, requests from senior managers to do x,y,z, announcement of fellow employees being taken on or leaving, company performance updates etc, as well as part taking in several training exercises. I also work on a computer they purchased for me and they’ve always reimbursed me for other necessary equipment such as external hard drives and so on, as well as flights and trip expenses. Although I work at home and keep my own hours, my deadlines have always been set by them and I’ve had weekly targets to hit in terms of internet posts etc.

    About a year ago I was in a dispute with the publisher over budget (they cut budget to almost nothing while increasing workload by at least 1/3, and over a two year period reduced my salary by 1/3 as well, “due to budget constraints”).

    During the dispute while threatening me with dismissal it emerged that the publisher saw me as “just another freelancer”. He said he could shut the title right now and not owe me anything.

    Further enquiries about the agreement I had made with the head of accounts threw out two interesting bits of information:

    a) the managers had supposedly never heard of it, therefore did not recognize it.

    b) the same had of accounts and the previous line manager had both left the company, so there was no one there to vouch for my claim.

    Now the company has decided to close the title.

    They are ‘kindly’ offering me a one-off payment of two-months pay.

    Two months pay will help me keep my household stable for a few weeks but I suspect that after 17 years on the same title, paid every single month for the same job, I deserve quite a lot more.

    Sorry for the long post but if anyone reads it and could give me some advice or someone I can contact for advice with this situation, I would really appreciate it.



    • lesleyfurber

      Hi ADR, I’m going to reply by e-mail. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • alex

    Hi there can anyone can help me now iv just start a job as a labourer with a agency now they did’t tell me that I needed to be self-employed. So I have work and just found out that I needed to be self-employed but I don’t want that. now for the days I work for the agency they have told me that they will not pay me unless I go self-employed can they do that?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Alex, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to help you here. Generally, if you work through an agency you cannot be self-employed (you either need to be PAYE or a limited company) – but I know there are differences in the construction industry but I’m not aware what they are. But, basically, no they cannot refuse to pay you ,they have to pay you for what you worked. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • JCB

    JCB. Don’t know if you can help? My nephew has been offered an apprenticeship working on the railways. It is a permanent job and he is employed, however, he has been told that he needs to be paid via an umbrella company, is this normal and the right procedure? Thanks.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi JCB, thanks for your message. This is not something I’ve heard of before – an apprenticeship being paid via an umbrella company. Is this work going through an agency? As then it might be appropriate – it’s going to depend on the job he is doing etc. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Mira


    I came across a site called odesk.com who is hiring freelancers within the IT field. My question is if I decide to work I can work for different clients for one week, two week etc. depending on the contract. My question is what status I will have? Will I be self-employed and need to register or what I suppose to do? I do not think that I will earn more then 5K per year but I would like to know what I am supossed to do. I am not an UK resident, however I live here I do have residence card and rights to work as well as NIN.
    Thank you

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Mira, work you do on sites like this will be on a freelance/self-employed basis. You will need to register with the HMRC as self-employed, it’s fairly straightforward, you can go to their website to get their contact details. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Andrei

    Hi Lesley,
    My name is Andrei I’ve found your website very useful. I have a question. I am in uk just for several weeks and I don’t have a NI yet. I want to apply for it now but I don’t know what to do. The employer from actual job told me that I would be Self-Employed and I have to go for Self-Employed NI. From 1st of February I have an opportunity to get a nice contract in a Sales Agency. I would have to change my NI or I would be able to work as an employee with the Self Employed NI ?
    Thank you in advance.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Andrei, thanks for your message. This page tells you what to do https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
      The NI number you get will be the same if your are employed or self-employed (but you would pay a different amount; but you keep the same number). Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Chia Bonicatto

    hi, my name is chiara! i’m from italy and for me it’s really impossible and difficult to understand somethin about employed, self employed etc… i need just an help… i’m working from july in a coffee shop as self employed, i will pay my taxes ect… but it’s correct for this kind of job to be self employed? thank you for any help or advise!

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Chia, thanks for your message. Have you been through all the ‘tests’ above; obviously without any details of what you do/how you do it etc it’s difficult to give you any more advice. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • Chia Bonicatto

        thank you Lesley for your reply! any chance to write to you privately? i have tried to call this morning the hmrc and an other advise office but everyone said me something different. i’m a bit scared and i really need to understand.

  • Laura

    Hi, I’m a freelancer who has, for almost a year now been working for the same company. I have not been full time (until recently when I’ve been moved onto a consultancy contract for 4 months, still freelance). They haven’t been my only client until recently, and whilst only working some days a week for them, I’ve been able to adjust the days I work around other engagements. As far as I’m aware that qualifies as self-employed and I’ve invoiced as such.

    However I’ve recently heard that if you work for any client for more than 7 months you are automatically considered to be an employee – could you help me to clarify if that is just in the case of full time employment?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Laura, thanks for your message. From what you have described above it sounds like you were genuinely self-employed. I’ve not heard of a 7 month rule before, but I know in certain industries if you work for long periods of time (9 months etc) doing the same job for the same company, full-time, then the HMRC may consider this not a genuine self-employed job for tax purposes. The 7 month rule certainly does not exist for full-time employment (i.e. you become an employee). Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • sj

    Hi , I am working in IT concern as an Intra company transfer employee. My company here pays NI and tax. I am interested in doing some freelancing work ? Is it allowed ? If i am allowed will my company be able to know this ? How will i fill taxes in this scenario – will it 2 form one for freelancing and another one for permanent job ? please share in your thoughts. Thanks sj

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Sj, thanks for your message. You are allowed by the HMRC to work on an employed and a self-employed basis, but would need to register as self-employed with the HMRC and fill in an annual self-assesment tax return. However, you need to tell your company that you will be doing this, as it’s likely there will be a clause in your contract of employment requiring you to do that which is quite legitimate. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • sj

        Thanks a lot Lesley for the clarification. I think i may need to check my employer’s contract of employment – will give a check

  • zoed

    hello, my daughter recently started work as a beautician.Her employer insists she is self employed and needs to sort her own tax and ni.However, someone told me today that as her employer sets her hours, provides all equiptment and pays her minimum wage plus 5% commission she is in fact employed. Can you please tell me who is correct ? thankyou

    • zoed

      having checked the lists above it seems obvious to us that she is indeed employed, how does my daughter handle this when her employer refuses to acknowledge it

      • lesleyfurber

        Hi Zoed, thanks for your message. This is a difficult situation I’m afraid because if her Employer will not acknowledge this, then the only thing your daughter can do to challenge the Employer is to take a case to an employment tribunal, to claim employee status. Is there a recognised body for beauticians, as I’m sure there must be a lot of people in similar situations, and it may be worth getting into contact with them for their advice. Regards, Lesley, Workline

        • zoed

          thankyou very much

  • Azoo

    Hi, I work as a freelance academic researcher. My work involves direct contact with some clients and some of the work is outsourced to me form UK. My task is to make research reports or dissertations which students submit as their own in various universities. The agent who outsource me majority of work has a registered company in UK and is applying an entrepreneur Visa there. I myself have to apply for EEA family permit for which I have to show my monthly income after tax. The problem is that I don’t have a registered business so I think I can’t issue invoices to the agent for his visa and moreoever I’m confused about my source of income … is it freelancer, or self-employed or worker? If I haven’t paid tax on my work which is usually less than 500 GBP per month do i need to pay tax now? Please help!!

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Guest, I’m not a tax expert I’m afraid but if you’re self-employed you need to pay be registered as that and to pay any tax you are due to pay. If you don’t live in the UK then you should do that probably in the country that you live in. I think you need to take the advice of an Accountant where you live or in the UK. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Ian Smith

    If someone self employed is a support worker and goes sick what rights does the person he supports have?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Ian, I’m not sure I can help you with this as I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Regards, Lesley, Worklin3

      • Ian Smith

        What I’m trying to ask is: A disabled man has a support worker who assists him on his daily chores, the support worker is self employed and goes off long term sick. Can the disabled man look for someone else to help him and tell the support worker he is no longer required?
        Hope you understand all that!!!

        • lesleyfurber

          Hi Ian, you would need to see what the contract says (if there is one) but if a self-employed person is unable to fulfil the job /provide their services, then the contract cannot be fulfilled. Therefore the contract would end. It is important here though that the support worker is genuinely self-employed. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Nigel Evans

    If possible I would like some advice with regard to something which has just cropped up.

    I am a self employed courier doing work for various transport/courier companies.
    One of them (the one I do most work for} has just written to myself and all other sub contractors asking us to provide a copy of our 2012/13 tax return due to Tax Regulations. Failure to do so will affect future payments.
    My query is can they ask for this?

    I don’t know which regulations they are referring to but I am reluctant to provide such personal information especially as I am not employed by them and cannot be sure what they would be doing with my details

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Nigel, thanks for your message. I’ve never heard of that before – I wonder if it’s something to do with them having proof you are self-employed (so there are no ‘status’ issues). I’d agree that you should be reluctant to provide this. I would ask them what regulations they are referring to. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • SC

    Hi Lesley,
    I am co-director of a limited company, looking for clients (marketing services). I’ve seen a job advertised locally that is part-time, temporary that would suit me. Could I ask if they would consider taking me on as a contractor rather than employee? So I would invoice them as a client. Main downside I can see is that I would miss out on holiday pay – would it be acceptable to ask for a higher day rate to compensate for this saving to them?
    Many thanks.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi SC, thanks for your message. This is something the employer would need to agree to, it may be that the job is not a job that should be done on a contractor/freelance basis; it may have implications for their other staff etc. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Jessica

    Hi Lesley,

    I’ve been working for a small shop that acts as an agent, they promote my work in their shop and i get a cut of the money afer they’ve taken their share and paid HMRC. I undertake all fees, expenses, material costs etc etc.The work is held on a sale or return basis.I send them invoices every month after/if i have recieved a sales report from them. I have only submitted one art print for the last year and have made £5 per month, up to £20 at the very most, some months i sell nothing. Am i self employed? I never registered as self employed and even though the amount ive made isnt taxable, im worried i have done something wrong. Can you help me? To summarise, i make, say, 4 art prints, i send them to this shop, the shop display them, if one sells, they then send me the sales report and i send them an invoice. I only make the work myself. Im not continually submitting work and no one can do the work for me, im not in charge of anyone and have no say in their business, only what my wholesale price is. I have an S.O.R contract and a consigment form from them and this agreement is on a month to month basis. Any advice would be great.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Guest, yes you’re self-employed. You should really declare all your income, even if it’s not much and wont’ be taxable, and to do that you register as self-employed with the HMRC. Hope that helps. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • sandy beach

    Lesley, do you know if I am entitled to holiday pay. I have my own LTD company and work for myself, when I take contracts myself, I understand as the director of said company I have to sort out my holidays. However I also work through an agency, when I do so although I still work through my company, I have a contract with the agency, and would be a worker, the agency says I am not entitled to holiday pay etc when working throug them after the 12 week period, but I’m not so sure, they also employe people through umberella company’s and PAYE.
    If you could help clarify that would be great as I’m not sure if they are just trying to avoid paying for something I’m entitled to, as they have done this before or if they are correct?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Sandy Beach, thanks for your message. If you are working through the agency as a Ltd Company (and not through an umbrella company) then I think they are right to say you are not entitled to holiday. It would be worth checking through any contract you have with them though, to identify what they regard your ‘status’ as. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Martin

    Hi, I retired from self employed freelance contracting around 9 years ago and I have a small portfolio of small modern rental properties. The IR would not let me stay self employed at the time as my income was classed as “unearned” so I stopped paying NI. Recently National Insurance have chased me for payment as they have now clasified me as self employed.
    They sent me a form which I filled in honestly stating that I spend time on the properties a maximum number of 4 hours per month and they have I replied saying they believe that I am self employed. Has there been a change in the law or is this just a way of reducing the jobless figures?
    It seems that I would even not be able to claim certain benefits unless I work a minimum of 16 hours a week.
    If I am classed as self employed, I believe that I should be able to claim for 7 years against my previous tax returns for the expenses that I would have claimed had I been self employed, such as new computers, printers, paper, inks, protective clothes, tools, ladders, etc.
    I look forward to your comments.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Martin, thanks for your message. You need an Accountants advice about this, it’s not something I can help with I’m afraid. Good luck. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • jeanie

    Hi wonder if anyone can help. My son is working for jcb as an apprentice. He wants to go in for a mortgage but they want to know if he has a contract. Would he be able to obtain a mortgage and if so who would be the best bank

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Jeanie, sorry I can’t give you financial advice about this, I only give employment related advice. If he has an apprenticeship then he should have a contract, but it is likely to be of a fixed-term length. Regards, Lesley

  • madeleine

    Hi Lesley, I have been a self-employed web designer working for a
    company for 13 years. I have undertaken a responsible central position
    in the small company – and as that has taken up so much of my time I
    haven’t been able to build up much alternative work. The owner is now
    selling the company. Do I have any rights to redundancy etc after 13
    years of work? thanks

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Madeleine, thanks for your message. You will only have redundancy rights if you can prove that essentially you are/were an ‘employee’ – see the ‘tests’ above. Let me know if you have any further questions. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • John

    Hi guys, can anyone help? I am employed through an agency, paid by an umbrella company. The only problem I have is that the factory I work at has just started making all the temp workers wear hi-viz vests with the word TEMP written on the back of it, can they do this as a lot of the staff think its derogatory and discrimination against the temporary workers. Please help.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi John, thanks for your message. The best thing to do would be to find out why they are insisting only temporary workers need to wear them. I don’t think this could be classed as any of the current forms of discrimination that exist. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Daisy

    Hello. I have a question regarding lunch breaks and the legal minimum of break time required for a PAYE. I know that there are no written rules for this, but I do not have a contract set up with my employer, even though I am on payroll. I am currently working 9am-6pm with a monthly salary of £1,200.00. Is it correct to assume that if I do not take an hour lunch break then I am not being paid minimum wage?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Daisy, thanks for your message. The legal minimum break time if you work over 6 hours a day is 20 minutes; this does not have to be paid. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • Jon

    Hi there, i setup a business to fulfil a short contract early last year. The contract was made out in my personal name and i subsequently sent an invoice in my name upon completion of the required services – total invoice came to ~£6k. I am just now reviewing this and preparing to run my corporation tax filing etc. Can i run this invoice through my business?

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Jon, thanks for your message. You need to ask an Accountant this question, I can’t help you I’m afraid. Regards, Lesley, Worklin

  • damian clayton


    I ‘work’ for a dental corporate as a dental hygienist. My contract for services state that I must give 12 weeks written notice, with the galling addition that if I submit my notice withing 24 months of the contract starting, that i will have £1000.00 deducted form my pay during the notice period to pay for recruitment costs. Is this legal. Would it not count as a penalty?

    Many thanks


  • JimOma


    I have a question regarding a candidate for part time work.

    I’m a Sole Trader and would like to employ someone part time 15 hours a week on a fixed term contract at the rate of NMW. The candidate receives Carer’s Allowance which is a taxable benefit. Their earnings will be below the LEL. They cannot earn more, else they will not be able to receive CA which supports their living.

    I have 2 questions please…

    1. Do wage slips need to be processed through the PAYE system of HMRC in order to be legal?

    2. I am paying for the candidate’s broadband contract so they can work from home. Do I need to report this to HMRC in order to pay NIC and Tax?

    thank you.

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Jim, thanks for your message. As far as I know, you do not need to use HMRC to provide a payslip but you must provide one. Your second question, you need to speak to the HMRC or an Accountant about this. Regards, Lesley, Workline

      • JimOma

        Ok, thank you Lesley :)

        If I do not register as an employer by using PAYE (because the candidate’s earnings are below the LEL), is the person I’m paying to complete tasks and to whom I’m issuing payslips… an “employee”?


        • lesleyfurber

          Hi Jim, you need to speak to the HMRC about these questions. Regards, Lesley, Workline

  • ray oconnorFacebook User

    Hi I have a small company (LTD) agency that suppliers casual workers to Disney on ice tours from week to week and want to branch out from the UK into Europe, will I be able to trade as a UK firm or need to start companies in each country!

    • lesleyfurber

      Hi Ray, I can’t help you with this I’m afraid, you would need to find an Accountant/Company Advisor who is familiar with these issues. Regards, Lesley, Workline