contractor vs employee

Contractor vs Employee: Understanding the Differences

Understanding the Differences Between Contractor vs Employee in UK

Determining whether someone is an contractor or a employee can be complex and confusing, with significant legal and financial implications for your business. As an employer, it’s essential to understand the key differences between Contractor vs Employee workers to ensure that you meet your legal obligations and avoid costly mistakes.


An employee is someone who works for a business under a contract of employment. They are entitled to a range of statutory rights and benefits, including:

  1. Protection against unfair dismissal.
  2. A minimum wage and the right to claim statutory redundancy pay.
  3. Statutory sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and paid time off for public duties.
  4. Pension scheme membership.

As an employer, you control an employee’s work and how it is carried out. You are responsible for deducting income tax and National Insurance contributions from their pay. Employees are required to work personally, and their contract typically includes a notice period.


A contractor provides services to a business under a contract for services. They are not entitled to the same rights and benefits as an employee and are responsible for paying their tax and National Insurance contributions. Contractors have more control over their work and how it is carried out and may be able to work for multiple clients simultaneously.

The key features of a contractor are:

  • Control over the work they carry out.
  • A right to send a substitute to carry out the work.
  • The absence of mutuality of obligation.
  • Responsibility for their own financial risk.

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Determining the Status of a Worker

Determining a worker’s employment status can be complicated, and there is no definitive test to determine whether someone is an employee or a contractor. However, the following factors can help you make the distinction between contractor vs employee

  • Control: Does the employer control the worker’s work and how it is carried out? If yes, they are likely an employee. If not, they are more likely to be a contractor. Control is the most critical factor when determining employment status.
  • Personal Service: Does the worker have to provide their services personally, or can they send a substitute to do the work? They will likely be employees if they have to provide their services personally.
  • Mutuality of Obligation: Is the employer obliged to provide work, and is the worker obliged to accept it? If yes, they are more likely to be an employee.
  • Financial Risk: Does the worker bear any financial risk if the work is not performed satisfactorily? If yes, they are more likely to be a contractor.

Naseems Accountants: How We Can Help

At Naseems Accountants, we understand that navigating the complexities of employment status can be challenging, especially for small businesses and startups.

Our team of expert accountants can help you with the following:

  • Determine the employment status of your workers and ensure that you comply with your legal obligations.
  • Review your contracts and agreements with your workers to ensure that they accurately reflect their employment status.
  • Develop effective policies and procedures to manage your workers, including employee benefits, payroll, and tax obligations.
  • Provide ongoing advice and support to help you stay up-to-date with the latest legislation and regulations surrounding employment status.
  • Assist you with any disputes or claims related to employment status, including representation at employment tribunals.

As a trusted and experienced accounting firm, we understand the importance of getting employment status right. Whether you are looking to hire your first employee or manage a team of contractors, we can provide tailored advice and support to help you navigate the complexities of employment.


Understanding the differences between contractor vs employee is crucial for any business. At Naseems Accountants, we can provide expert advice and guidance to help you determine the employment status of your workers and comply with your legal obligations. With our support, you can focus on growing your business and achieving your goals, confident that your employment practices are compliant and effective.

Book a free consultation today to learn more about how we can help you navigate the complexities of employment status and support your business’s success.


Is a contractor an employee in the UK?

HMRC applies employment status tests to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee for tax purposes. While some workers may be automatically considered employees, contractors can be classified as employees for tax purposes in many cases.

What are contractors called in the UK?

In the UK, contractors are often called freelancers, self-employed individuals, or independent contractors. They provide client services on a project-by-project basis without being directly employed by the client company.

Can foreign contractors work in the UK?

Yes, foreign contractors can work in the UK but they need to have the appropriate visa and work permit, such as a Tier 5 or Tier 2 visa depending on the length and nature of their work.

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