Employment and self-employment

Updated on 6 April 2023


If you are a migrant to the UK and you work here, it is important to understand if you are self-employed or employed for that work.

Illustration showing the words self and employed

Whether you are employed or self-employed is not just relevant to your tax affairs but is also relevant to your employment law rights such as entitlement to the minimum wage and holiday pay. You can find more information on employment law rights in general from ACAS.

Whether you are employed or self-employed is not a matter of choice, by you or the engager; it depends on the circumstances. In particular, it depends on the nature of the relationship between you and the engager. The distinction between employment and self-employment is not always clear. Some businesses try to exploit this by treating you as self-employed when you should be treated as an employee, because it can save the business money.

As such, you should beware of the following situations:

  • someone offers you work and gives you the choice of being employed or self-employed;
  • you go to work for someone, thinking you are an employee, but the work-provider tells you that you are self-employed;
  • you go to work for an employment agency – which sends you to work at different jobs for different people – and the agency tries to treat you as self-employed.

In any of these situations it is important for you to find out the facts and work out for yourself whether you are employed or self-employed, or both. If you need help, you can find out where to get advice on our Getting Help page.

This part of the website has more information on the following topics:

Tax guides

Share this page