Employment law status

Understanding the status of your personal assistant (PA)

The status of your PA for employment law is important. Their status determines the employment law rights that they have. It also determines your obligations to them.

What is employment law status?
Is it the same as tax employment status?
What are the different types of employment status?
What is a worker – an example
Who decides employment status?
Where can I find more information?

What is employment law status?

The employment law status of your PA determines the rights that they have and the responsibilities you have towards them in employment law.

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Is it the same as tax employment status?

Employment law status is different from tax employment status. It is possible that your PA may have a different status for employment law purposes than for tax purposes. It is important that you check carefully the status for each. We explain more about the tax employment status and how to decide this in respect of your PA in our ‘Tax employment status' section.

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What are the different types of employment status?

For tax there are only two types of status – employed and self-employed. For employment law there are three main types of status that may be relevant:

  • Employed
  • Self-employed
  • Worker

A worker is basically someone who undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another person. Workers have some core employment rights. They have fewer rights than employees who have extensive rights, but they have more rights than the self-employed who tend to have very few legal protections compared to employed people.

Their work arrangements tend to be 'midway' between self-employment and employment. They have some characteristics of both in that they are formally self-employed (they usually have a sort of 'contract for services' with the employer) but they depend on a single employer for their income (or large part of it).

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What is a worker – an example

A carpenter who works exclusively for one firm of building contractors will likely be a ‘worker’ even though he may decide his own hours and own way of working, complete his own tax returns, pay his own tax and National Insurance and provide his own tools. He is a ‘worker’ because the building firm has hired him personally to do the work and it would not be acceptable for him to send a sub-contractor or a friend in his place – even though he is otherwise quite independent of them. 

If they also set his hours and work tasks each week with specific holidays and wages, he may well be an employee for employment law purposes.

Alternatively, if he had many clients and was only asked to do a one – off job for the building firm, he would probably be self-employed for employment law purposes.

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Who decides employment status?

It is your responsibility to determine the status of your personal assistant for employment law. Like for tax status, there is no single test to determine whether a person is an employee, worker or self-employed. All the relevant factors needs to be considered. You might want to get some specialist employment law advice if you are unsure. You can contact ACAS for free support and advice. 

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Where can I find out more information?

In the remainder of this section of the website we cover the employment law rights of employees (most PAs will be employees for employment law purposes). However, you can find out more about the rights and obligations for workers and the self-employed by following the links below:

If you need help understanding the employment status of your PA you can contact ACAS for free support. They have a helpline that deals with issues relating to employment. The Helpline provides clear, confidential, independent and impartial advice to assist the caller in resolving issues in the workplace.

Call the Helpline on 0300 123 1100
Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-1pm

Customers with a hearing or speech impairment may prefer to contact ACAS using the Text Relay service. You can contact the ACAS Helpline using Text Relay by dialling 18001 0300 123 1100. Your questions will be relayed to the helpline adviser who answers the call and a real-time conversation will take place.

Alternatively, you can use Helpline Online. This new automated system, which launched in June 2013, learns from your questions and, as more people use it, will get better at providing the most relevant answer to your query.

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