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The Difference Between Workers and Employees

July 31 2018

In English Language, the nouns ‘worker’ and ‘employee’ have very similar meanings, if not the same. However, in employment law, the two terms have very different components, especially when it comes to settling incidents such as unfair dismissal, and maternity/paternity leave. Here, Grahame Stowe-Bateson are going to briefly distinguish the differences between workers and employees.

The conditions for workers generally are:

·        They have a formal agreement/contract that states work and services will be carried out for reward

·        Their reward is monetary, or beneficial to the worker, for example the guarantee of a contract for future              work

·        They have a limited right to ‘subcontract’ (send someone else to do the work for them)

·        Attendance to work is mandatory

·        For the duration of the arrangement/contract, the body providing the opportunity must have work for the             worker to do

·        The worker is not carrying out work on behalf of themselves or their own limited company, that would                  place the ‘employer’ (body providing the work) as a client

For employees, their conditions are stated under an employment contract. You are an employee if most of the following apply to your role:

·        Must work a minimum number of hours unless on a type of leave. For example, holiday, sick leave,                    compassionate/bereavement leave maternity/paternity leave

·        Will be paid for completion of minimum number of hours

·        Likely to have to answer to a manager or supervisor who sets workload

·        Can not send a substitute to do their work

·        Tax and National Insurance is deducted from wages by the business or HR department

·        Receive paid holiday

·        Entitled to previously mentioned sick pay, maternity/paternity pay

·        Eligible to the pension plan of the company

A full list of the components that makes an eligible employee can be found here:

Employees also have specific rights that entitle them to everything workers are entitled to and more.

The additional rights that employees are entitled to include:

·        Statutory sick pay

·        Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave as well as pay.

·        Minimum notice periods in the event of a dismissal or redundancy for example

·        Protection against unfair dismissal

·        Right to ask for flexible working

·        Time off in the event of an emergency

In simple terms, all employees are workers with more rights, however not all workers are employees. Hopefully, this has made the difference between workers and employees more distinguishable. For an in-depth guide regarding the different employment statuses and the rights they have, head over to


If after checking your employment status, you still feel unsure as to the rights you should be receiving and believe you may be or have been untreated unfairly at work, Grahame Stowe-Bateson are specialists in providing legal representation across Leeds and Harrogate.

We have offices in Bramley, Middleton, Leeds City Centre, and Harrogate. Call 0113 246 8163 to get in touch. 

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