What Is Employment?

For there to be employment there must be a contract of service where the employer controls how, when and where the work is done. Usually the work is done on the employer’s premises using the employer’s tools and materials.

It is a relationship “of service” as opposed to someone agreeing to provide services as in a self-employed contractor role. The employer must exercise sufficient control over the employee and how they work. Lawyers still refer to the concept of “master and servant” when distinguishing a contract of employment from other contractual relationships.

There must be a mutuality of obligations between employer and employee. This is the case where the employee is obliged to work and the employer is obliged to provide them with work and to pay them for it.

It is essential to a relationship of employment that the obligation is a personal one, and the employee is personally obliged to do the work themselves, as opposed to getting someone else to do it.

The law distinguishes between a “worker” and an “employee” so that many employment rights apply equally to both even though the worker is not working under a contract of employment.

For example, the National Minimum Wage Act and the Working Time Regulations both apply to a “worker” (which will include employees and also others who personally undertake to do work for another under a contract, whether written, oral, implied, or express, but not where the work is part of a profession or business undertaking carried on by the worker).

There are specific provisions about home workers and agency workers who are not necessarily employed by the person whose work they do.

Someone who is genuinely self-employed will not be treated as a worker in relation to the work they carry on for the clients or customers of their business or profession.


Related Topics

Worker or Self-employed?

The Contract of Employment

Employment Tribunals


Employment Lawyers

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Bishopsgate Law employment lawyers provide independent legal advice about employment settlement agreements, and represent employees and employers at Employment Tribunals.

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