- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 29 Jan 2021
Employment status: a concise guide
Recent court cases involving the likes of Uber, Deliveroo and Pimlico Plumbers mean that the topic of employment status is never far from the spotlight. This reflects the growing importance of new ways of working, such as in the so-called ‘gig economy’.
Keen to enlarge its revenue from income tax and national insurance contributions (NICs), the UK government has also been adopting a tougher line on employment status, ‘cracking down’ on various arrangements perceived to facilitate what is often termed ‘false self-employment’.
 Determining status
The three main factors (sometimes referred to as the ‘irreducible minimum’) that are normally considered by a court or an employment tribunal when determining an individual's employment status are as follows:
An employee/worker is required to provide their services personally. They cannot employ or engage staff to support themselves in doing so. In contrast, a self-employed person is not required to carry out the services personally and has an unfettered right to appoint substitutes or additional personnel.
 2 Mutuality of obligations
In an employment relationship, the employer is under an obligation to provide the employee with regular work, and the employee (quite often a worker, too) is under an obligation to do the work where provided. An organisation is not obliged to offer work to a self-employed person on a regular or frequent basis and that individual is not obliged to accept any work where offered.
 3 Control
An employee/worker is under the employer's control in terms of what they do, how they do it and when they do it, although professional or skilled individuals may exercise discretion over their own work and still be classed as employees. A self-employed individual is deemed to have the freedom to determine when and how they work and is not under the direct control or supervision of their client.
If all three of the above elements are present, the individual is likely to be an employee (or sometimes a ‘worker’). Tribunals normally look at the full picture, at the terms of the contract between the business and the individual, and how the arrangements operate in practice.
Other key indicators may be used to help determine whether an individual is employed or not. These can be found in the ECA’s Guidance Document on employment status (for ECA members only). Visit www.eca.co.uk/business-industry-support/employee-relations for more.
 About this article
This article was written by Orazio Amantia, Senior Employee Relations Advisor at the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA). It was first published on the ECA website in April 2019 and can be accessed here.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Equality Act.
- Equal opportunities policy.
- Good Work Plan promises clearer contracts, fairer rules
- Non-productive overtime.
- Payroll companies.
- Personal service company.
- Professional indemnity insurance.
- TUPE Regulations.
- Umbrella companies.
Featured articles and news
Exploring the key to the adoption of this abundant energy source.
His clients have ranged from Liberace to St Nick to world-class athletes.
These tactical structures can be permanent or temporary.
Organisation recognises milestones of the project's next phase.
Welding and metalworking businesses must manage respiratory risks.
New report explores how regulations are being put into action.
The golden thread and BS 8644-1.
Bitumen binder may delay road surface deterioration.
A varied portfolio of internationally recognised buildings.
Threatened by housing and expanding universities.
Getting "boots on the ground" to make things happen.
Building systems may begin to learn.
CIOB to recognise Client of the Year and Team of the Year.
PAS 9980 PAS 9980:2021 addresses fire risk appraisal and assessment.