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Main Types of Employment Status

Employment status defines the basic rights and responsibilities people have in the workplace. Find out the work rights for the main types of employment status in the United Kingdom.

EMPLOYMENT STATUS: Rank is an integral part of UK employment law.

The employment status that you hold helps to determine your rights. It also establishes the responsibilities of your employer.

The foremost types of employment statuses include:

  • Worker
  • Employee and Employee Shareholder
  • Self-employed and Contractor
  • Director and Office Holder

Further topics in this section explain employment status types, meanings, and definitions. But, you can contact Acas for free advice about your work rights and responsibilities. The equivalent authority in Northern Ireland is the Labour Relations Agency (LRA).

Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
Check the cost of telephone call charges.

Note: Under the law of taxation it is possible for a person to have a different employment status. The courts and some tribunals can determine a different and final decision.

Legalities on Employment Status

A court, or an employment tribunal (industrial tribunal in NIR), can reach a final decision on employment status. They would examine how an employment relationship works in practice between a person and a business.

Likewise, HM Revenue and Customs may also regard a person as self-employed for tax purposes. A court or an employment tribunal can make a decision that a person is a worker or an employee for purposes of employment rights.



WORKERS: A worker is a person who undertakes work or services for an employer. Often, worker employment rights exist from working under a contract of employment – but not always.


EMPLOYEES: They form the biggest majority in the working population of the United Kingdom. But, there are key differences between employee employment rights and those of a worker.

Note: BEIS issued guidance for individuals and HR advisers to understand more about employment status and which employment rights apply to them.

Employee Shareholder

EMPLOYEE SHAREHOLDERS: Having employee shareholder status means you have an employment contract. You relinquish some rights to own at least £2,000 worth of shares in your employer’s company.

Self-employed and Contractor

SELF EMPLOYED CONTRACTORS: Having self-employed status means you do not have an employment contract with an employer. Your clients will contract you through your business to provide services for a fee.


DIRECTORS: Information in the section explains director employment status and rights. Find out how and why directors get classed as office holder status.

Office Holder

OFFICE HOLDERS: An office holder is a person appointed to a certain position by an organisation or a company. Having office holder employment status means you would not have a contract or receive regular payments.

Different Types of Employment Status Definitions in the United Kingdom