What is the definition of a ‘Worker’?

‘Worker’ is the term used to describe someone who agrees to work ‘personally’ for an organisation or a person in return for some form of reward.

An employee is also a worker, but not all workers will be employees. Unlike an employee, a worker will have slightly more freedom to accept or decline work from the employer. However, this also means that the worker has fewer employment rights (unless the worker is also an employee).

A worker

  • Will have some kind of contract or arrangement to work in return for pay or some other benefit
  • May be able to sub contract, but this will be limited
  • Should come to work if he or she has agreed to do so
  • Can expect to be provided with work as long as the arrangement lasts
  • Won’t be providing the work through a limited company – if this is the case, the employer is more likely to be a customer or client than an employer, and the worker, ‘contractor’

If you are not sure if you are a worker or an employee, read our article on employment status. Other signs that you might be a worker and not an employee include:

  • Occasionally working for a business
  • You aren’t always offered work, and when it is offered, you can refuse it
  • You still have to agree to the organisation’s terms and conditions to get the work
  • You will have a manager or supervisor

People on zero hours contracts or who work on a ‘casual’, ‘freelance’ or ‘as required’ basis are likely to be workers.

If you are a worker (but not an employee) you do have some employment rights, including:

  • The National Minimum/Living Wage
  • Protection from unlawful deductions from wages
  • Statutory holiday and rest breaks
  • A maximum 48 hour working week (unless you opt out of this)
  • The right not to be discriminated against
  • Protection if you raise a concern about the workplace (whistleblowing)
  • The right not to be treated less favourably if you work part time
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