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Do Self-Employed Contractors Have Employment Rights?

Cristina Pucci

Being self-employed has numerous advantages, including the ability to work flexible hours and practically unlimited earning potential. Self-employed individuals, however, have duties that full-time employees do not have, such as submitting their own taxes.

But, do self-employed contractors have employment rights? Let’s take a look.

What Is a Self-employed Contractor?

A self-employed contractor is a person who is self-employed and contracts to provide services to another organisation. The contractor is usually hired through an agency or intermediary and is responsible for their own tax and insurance.

There are many benefits to being a self-employed contractor. For example, you get to take responsibility for the success or failure of your business. This gives you a sense of control and ownership that is often absent in traditional employment relationships.

Self-Employed Rights vs Employee Rights

Self-employed contractors are not employees and as a result, they have no employment rights. This is because they have not entered into or work under a contract of employment.

A contract of employment is a contract where one party agrees to provide their services to another party in return for wages or salary. This definition can be found in section 230 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA).

An employee is an individual who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship. For this reason, they benefit from the rights stated on the contract by their employers.

Being self-employed means not having the following rights, which, on the other hand, are available to employees:

•    Statutory sick pay

•    Maternity/paternity leave

•    National Minimum Wage

•    Statutory redundancy pay

•    Paid holiday and rest breaks

However, a self-employed individual will still have access to things like welfare benefits, the state pension, and a DWP allowance should they become sick.

Welfare Benefits

Those who are self-employed and don't earn enough have the right to claim tax credits as well as some welfare benefits. In most cases, assistance from the HMRC, the Citizens Advice Bureau, or the DWP is required to complete this type of claim.

State Pensions

Self-employed individuals are eligible for a state pension if they have made the required national insurance contributions.

Maternity Allowance

The Maternity Allowance (MA) is available to self-employed pregnant women who have been working for a minimum of 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks leading up to and including the week before the birth of their child. Furthermore, they must earn a minimum of £30 per week.


Although self-employed people are not eligible for statutory sick pay when they become unwell, they may be eligible to receive employment and support allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions.

This will provide them with financial assistance and a Work Capability Assessment to identify the level to which their sickness interferes with their ability to work.


Although self-employed contractors do not have employment rights, they still are entitled to some form of protection. So, if you're thinking of going into self-employment, don't let the lack of employment rights deter you!

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