Types of employment

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Types of employment

Types of employment

Knowing your employment type helps you know your rights and responsibilities at work, as well as the legal obligations your employer has towards you. This page links to further information on different types of employment.

Employment types

The main kinds of employment status are:

Employee or worker

A worker is a broad employment type which includes being an employee. Types of workers that are not employees may include casual worker (sometimes called casual employee or zero hours contract), agency worker, and freelancer. Workers do not include people who work for themselves.

A person is probably a worker if:

  • They have a contract or arrangement to be paid for their work or services
  • Their employer is obliged to provide work for the duration of their contract or arrangement
  • They are required to work even when they don’t wish to
  • They are not doing the work as a sole trader, partner or director of a limited company (i.e. the employer is actually a client or a customer)

Workers learning how to do their job include apprentices, interns and young people on traineeships.

Any of these employment types may include home working or working abroad.

Employment contracts

All workers typically have employment contracts with their employers. An employment contract is an agreement which sets out the terms and conditions of employment, including the employee's duties, rights and responsibilities.

An employee may end their contract by resigning. An employer may end a contract early by dismissal or offering redundancy. The employer and employee may change their contract by negotiation.

Self-employed or director

Being self-employed can mean:

  • Being a sole trader or sole proprietor
  • Being part of a partnership
  • Being a director of a limited company

Being a sole trader or sole proprietor means that a single person is responsible for running the business. Being part of a partnership means that more than one person shares the responsibility. Being a director of a limited company means that the limited company is responsible for the business.

Economically inactive

Being economically inactive may include:

  • Being a full-time carer
  • Being a full-time parent
  • Being unable to work due to incapacity
  • Being unemployed
  • Volunteering

Further advice

Further advice on employment types can be found on the GOV.UK website. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) provides an online tool called the Employment Status Indicator (ESI) which enables individuals or groups to check their employment status for the purposes of tax, VAT and National Insurance contributions (NICs). The Trades Union Congress (TUC) provides legal information and support via the workSMART website.