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Self Employed?

The recent High Court case of ‘Aslam and others v Uber’ has highlighted the differences which exist between employers and the self-employed. This case did not concern tax but focussed on the relationship between employers and self-employed contractors.

Employers employ people. They give them contracts of employment which specify all aspects of their relationship. These include the amount of compensation (including the intervals between payments), working hours and conditions, holiday pay and rights to pensions.

On the other hand, self-employed persons can sell their services to one or many available clients. They choose their working hours to facilitate the clients wishes and also decide the compensation which they will enjoy. Holidays and pensions are subjects the self-employed are able to decide for themselves.

The policy of HMRC was to regard the setting of workplace hours as the defining fact for an employee. All others are regarded as self-employed.

However, this case highlighted the case of certain self-employed contractors (hereinafter called ‘workers’) who have elected to have one client, have elected to work certain hours on a regular basis. This does not remove from them the ability to choose to not work for any period. The fact that they choose to work readily on a continuous basis has made them ‘quasi employees’ and, as the court decided, become entitled to some of the benefits of being employed. They do not however lose their self-employed status.

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