Learn about workers and their rights


There may come the time when the business you start grows big enough to need extra help. Find out when someone is classed as a ‘worker’ and what employment rights they have.

What is a worker?

A worker is someone who:

  • Has a written or verbal contract or arrangement to do work or carry out services for reward.
  • Is rewarded by money or a benefit in kind.
  • Has a limited right to get someone else to do their work (in other words to subcontract the work).
  • Has to turn up for work, even if they don’t want to.
  • You need to provide work for, for the duration of their contract or arrangement.
  • Isn’t working for you on behalf of their own company, making you their ‘client’.

What employment rights does a worker have?

A worker is entitled to:

  • Get the minimum wage.
  • Protection from unlawful deductions from their wages.
  • The statutory minimum level of paid holiday.
  • The statutory minimum length of rest breaks.
  • Not work more than 48 hours on average a week (they can opt out of this right if they wish).
  • Protection from unlawful discrimination.
  • Protection for reporting wrongdoing in the workplace.
  • Be treated fairly if they work part time.

A worker may also be entitled to:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay.
  • Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay.
  • Statutory Sick Pay.

A worker is not usually entitled to:

  • A minimum notice period.
  • Protection against unfair dismissal.
  • The right to ask for flexible working.
  • Time off for emergencies.
  • Statutory Redundancy Pay.

When is someone who works for you classed as a ‘worker’?

From time to time you may need to hire casual workers to help out in your business. If most of the following statements apply to them, they are considered ‘workers’:

  • They occasionally work for you.
  • You don’t have to offer them work and they’re not obliged to accept it.
  • Their contract uses words like ‘casual’, ‘freelance’ or ‘as needed’.
  • They agreed to your terms either verbally or in writing.
  • They are supervised by a manager or director.
  • They can’t ask someone else to do their work.
  • You deduct tax and National Insurance from their wages.
  • You provide the tools they need to do their work.

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