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What Rights Do the Self-Employed Have?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 24 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Self-employed Discrimination Health And

Employment legislation applies mainly to employees. The law protects the rights of these workers and prevents employers taking advantage of them.

Self-employed people work for themselves. A self-employed person is therefore not an employee. In general terms, employment legislation does not apply.

A self-employed person may, of course, employ staff and become subject to employment law. This situation does not alter the fact that the law, for the most part, does not cover anyone with self-employed status.


When it comes to discrimination, however, the self-employed have the same rights as other workers. Discrimination may relate to age, gender, marital status, Sexual Orientation, Pregnancy, gender reassignment, Disability, colour, race, nationality, Religion And Ethnic Background.

In reality, the way in which a self-employed person deals with discrimination may be difficult. Unlike an employee, a self-employed person does not have a manager or human resources department to discuss and complain about instances of discrimination.

If a self-employed person believes that discrimination is damaging his or her opportunities for work, one recourse is to contact a Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor.

Health and Safety

The self-employed must assess Workplace Health And Safety Risks to themselves and others. This is a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Self-employed people sometimes work alongside other self-employed workers. If so, everyone has the right to expect that their fellow workers have assessed any health and safety risks.

Similarly, a self-employed person working on a client’s premises has the right to expect that the client has carried out a health and safety risk assessment. This assessment applies as much to self-employed workers as to the client’s employees.

Contracts With Clients

Some self-employed people sign contracts with their clients. These contracts contain details of rights and responsibilities.

These rights and responsibilities may not be part of employment law for the self-employed. The exceptions are references to discrimination and health and safety. A contract is more likely to focus on the specific work a self-employed person performs for a client.

The detail of these contracts differs from industry to industry. A self-employed person should be familiar with this detail. If not, it’s wise to study and fully understand a contract before signing.

Holiday Pay

Self-employed people do not have a right to holiday pay. Sometimes, however, a self-employed person works for a client who classes him or her as an employee. This may occur when an agency gives a self-employed person full-time work. The contract between the agency and the self-employed worker should have relevant pay details.


There are government schemes and incentives encouraging and helping people to become self-employed. No one should confuse this encouragement and help with rights.

The self-employed do not have a right to attend training courses or receive grants. Such help is at the discretion of the agency that administers it.

State Pension

Self-employed people have a right to a state pension. But they can only receive a state pension if they have paid the necessary national insurance contributions.

Responsibility for national insurance lies with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Once the self-employed have registered with HMRC, they receive regular national insurance invoices.

Welfare Benefits

Self-employed people on low incomes have a right to receive tax credits and certain welfare benefits.

Making a claim for tax credits and welfare benefits can be complex. HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can help. Specialist advisers at the Citizens Advice Bureau can also assist.


Generally speaking, the self-employed cannot receive statutory sick pay when they fall ill. If a self-employed person is sick, he or she may be able to claim employment and support allowance from DWP.

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[Add a Comment]
My partner worked for a logistics company for Amazon . He is classed as self employed but worked for a licenced company,. My partner asked for some time off having recently been diagnosed with depression and was put on medication ,he was just off a week and was asked to return his van for insurance purposes. When he returned the van he had a email telling him he was terminated and they have taken money that he had previously signed for . Is this legal that they can do this?????
Sarah - 27-Aug-20 @ 1:39 PM
I work for a company from home I've worked for 10 years and am classed as self employed. there has been a problem with the system for a few months now things have got really bad now as for the last few weeks I have not been able to work every time I log on to the system to start work the system keeps logging me off. I've tryed to get in touch with the office and email a lot no one have ever got back to me. if I don't work I don't get payed. I think the company is trying to get rid of me and I can't afford to pay my rent what's my rights
Terri - 17-Aug-20 @ 12:50 AM
Hi - could I have some advice please?I have been self-employed since 1999 as I was asked to do this by a major training institution.Towards the end of last year (2019) the work dwindled and recently stopped completely.It was only when I contacted them during Lockdown that I was informed that my role no longer existed as the Canadian organisation who had bought them out was now using computers to do my work! Do I have any way of claiming redundancy/compensation? I am unable to claim Universal credit and am ineligible for the current Government grants for the self-employed. Thank you!
Collar - 2-Jul-20 @ 6:26 AM
I work self employed driver for a logistics company for amazon. I started after the COVID-19. Today (June 11th) we found out they dropped the pay by £18 a day because we are no longer key workers and lockdown has finished (has it?) anyway the payment decreased from June 1st, yet we all still worked unaware we were getting less money.... is this legal?
Gibbon - 11-Jun-20 @ 10:04 PM
Hi, I have worked as self employed finance agent for the same company for 20 years. On monday I was dismissed with no apparent reason other that they had to cut back. Do I have any rights for redundancy.
Lynn - 3-May-20 @ 10:30 AM
I am working as an interpreter. When I have problems with flu,cold, with car in a middle of a road and I have any possibility they freight me and applied the penalty feefor short cancellation. I understood that I am not employee but the exceptional situation can be included in the normal working condition. We are working in Hospital and that mean easy way to catch every diseases . We have any protection plan, any holiday only obligation to be in time with bed whether condition rain,fog, wind. I do not know if under Health Protection Act 1974 that is really correct!In my situation are all the interpreter from all the linguist agent and nobody didn't nothing. Please do you think we can do something for obtain a minimum of human right in this area of workers?
Doina - 24-Jan-20 @ 2:18 PM
My son has been self employed for 20 months worked for the same firm got laid off today with no notice his son also works self employed but only for 2 months they worked as a team they was given no notice are they entitled to do anything ???
B - 4-Jan-20 @ 2:33 AM
Hi... my son have been self employed and the company he worked for they laid him off last week. He was supposed to get paid today but they haven’t as yet. Is this illegal to with hold his pay back?
Flow - 3-Jan-20 @ 2:38 PM
I have workedfor a company earning commision for many years on a self employed basis.however, during the last year the rate of commission keeps dropping.are they allowed to keep changing our pay structure and getting away with it just because we are "self employed" ?
Loo - 7-Dec-19 @ 12:08 AM
Hi, I have been self employed and worked for the same company for 25 years, I don not get sick pay or holiday pay. I just wanted to know what rights I have as really I am an employee as worked for the samecompany for 25 years with no brake in working and supply my own vehicle and tools the boss asks us to wear work jumpers and t-shirts with company name on?
John - 4-Nov-19 @ 2:55 PM
So I work on a building site the last 6 years as self employed but the boss treats us like an employee when it comes to holidays that we have to stick to certain holiday dates but he does not pay us holiday pay or when we are sick we get nothing 4 days of is that against the law what he is doing and should we be an employee cause we are hear every day mon-fri as we ain't allowed take weeks of If we have nixers
Chapo - 29-Oct-19 @ 11:43 AM
I was working in Inverness last month I work self employed the firm owes me £700 and because I left to be nearer home I didn't get my wages. What can I do in this case to retrieve the money I'm owed. Thank you
Chap - 21-Oct-19 @ 7:02 PM
hi there, im a self employed taxi driver but the compoany i work for have changed their system to force drivers to do credit hires. if we reject these hires we get kicked off the system for multiple time penalties leaving us unable to work for anything between 10 mins to 4 hours. i pay this company for a service in my eyes, i am not employed by this company so legaly can they punish us etc for not doing these hires
dmc82 - 21-Oct-19 @ 9:49 AM
I have worked for the same company for almost 15 years self employed in bookkeeping and accounts. In June 2019 I was admitted to hospital, had an operation and after 3 weeks back working for them until September when I was taken in again where I had further surgery. After 3 weeks again I am ready to work. While I was in hospital the ownertook all of my work away and will not answer any of my texts or calls. Basically he had terminated my work after 15 years. In this time I have met every deadline and worked when I have been ill at times. I work for them solely but they get the clients to write me cheques so that I don't have to be on their payroll. I am 55 now and this has been such a shock that someone can treat another person like this when I have worked so hard to help their business to be discarded in a second with no care that they have just taken away my livelihood. I am in shock and don't know what to do next but I do not want this company to get away with it. Any ideas of next course of action would be most appreciated. Thanks
Mez - 19-Oct-19 @ 9:27 AM
My Son overslept the other day he works as a delivery driver for a company franchise fir currys However he rang in and then was told he was being deducted £50 as a No Show fee is this legal some days he doesn't even earn minimum wage and all bonuses have been stopped within the company
Topgirl - 15-Oct-19 @ 6:10 PM
Hi could you please tell me if I can be sacked on a sick certifacte.I work from hermes and they are saying they will give my job to someone else
Jack - 9-Oct-19 @ 12:28 PM
Hello, I am working self employed with a gardening company, do I have any rights. Such as unfair dismissal ect.
Dom - 3-Oct-19 @ 8:31 AM
Hi I have been working as self employed for 8 years at the same company last night I was told that I was being let go as the company is going under I have just found out that it has been taken over by another company and was not needed should I have been given any sort of notice because this feels wrong
Goss - 1-Oct-19 @ 1:51 PM
Hi. Just wondering what the law is relating to self employment driving jobs-: I am a courier and my car broken for couple weeks in the garage and now the company are threatening my job as I didn’t find someone else to do my work whilst no available. Is this allowed as it isn’t in my control what’s happened. Thank you
Mummybear - 25-Sep-19 @ 9:05 PM
Hi I’m self employed courier for Hermes. I had a accident delivering parcels to customers. I have tore ligaments and chipped a bone in my foot. I can’t work now because off this. Can I clam from the company. Ann
Annie - 5-Sep-19 @ 11:27 AM
Am self-employed. Was working for an organisation and they let me go with 1 weeks notice. Need to know where I stand in this situation.
Rachal - 23-Aug-19 @ 11:16 AM
Hi Supplied a service in a primary school for over 5 years never a problem, still isn’t. Back in June the headteacher asked me to continue in September new term with my services, all good, however in July the headteacher calls me and gives me the news he’s not bringing me back. I find this completely unfair and farvto late for me to secure another school, which I’ve not. My question is do I have any rights and can I take him to a small claims court to recover the time he had verbally agreed, until Easter 2020. Unfairness is not proper or correct. Any advice would be appreciated. Mike.
Mike. - 30-Jul-19 @ 4:41 PM
The security company I work for has just made us all go self employed. They say I dont need a UTR. Is this correct. Also they are charging £10 per time sheet. Is this legal?
D - 25-Jul-19 @ 1:24 PM
hia, i wonder if you could help, i worked self employed for my company for 16 months, then there was a change in the company, i went from self employed to employed which i have been working employed for 23 months now, in total i have worked for the company now for 3yr 6 months. what it is, i been through a lot in 6 months, wrongly accused of gross miss conduct, grievance not upheld now they have put me on a management performance plan which i have also appealed, i feel like I'm getting forced out the company, and not goodwhich is giving serious depression, you might Q WHY i haven't resigned, the reason is , im a single parent with 1 child, how can we survive, i will have no income, what am i suppose to do , carry on working until they find a reason to sack me or resign with no income and lack of self esteem due to this company.. any advice, much appreciated.
N/A - 15-Jun-19 @ 9:49 PM
I am a HGV driver just gone over to self employed and the agency I have signed up with say I must work a week in hand. Is this normal and is it allowed. Many thanks, Steve
Dave - 7-Jun-19 @ 1:20 PM
Hello just a quick question for some clarification my boyf started his job in March starting at a rate of £150 a day which went on until maybe 2 weeks ago when they just suddenly dropped his wage to £120/100 he’s had to register as self employed so we don’t know if this is maybe why, but there hasn’t been an actual explanation as to why it’s been dropped as he has his qualifications and has shown a good work ethic, is this normal or is there something we can do?x
Rhi - 5-Jun-19 @ 12:05 PM
Hi, I'm self employed and was let go by the boss as they found out that I reported the unsafe working conditions to hse is there anything that can be done ?
jake - 17-May-19 @ 7:00 PM
I’m self employed, I’m currently off work due do an injury but the last guy I worked for owes me 2 days work - £300 but after tax £240, yet after invoicing him he said do it by cash. He’s now not answering my messages or answering my calls.. Any ideas how I could get my money back?
Shields752 - 13-May-19 @ 11:40 PM
I have worked self employed for a local taxi firm for over 15yrs. My taxi went wrong and had no work for the rest of the week. It was confirmed to me that the firm were not going to repair the taxi because it was not worth it. They then confirmed in an email to me that they were not going to replace the car because basically it would not be worth it for someone that doesn’t work full time ?? I work Mon-Fri from around 8-4.45 even longer when leaving abt 650 when I had a school run and sometimes having abt half hour for lunch because they call me. Surely these hours are classed as full time? I feel that I am being penalised for not working Sat/Sun, again, as self employed, they moan because I do t do weekends but again surely that’s my choice? I feel that until they put drivers on PAYE the company have no say when I work and when I don’t? I now have to go into the office on Mon for a chat to discuss car sharing and hours. Is this all fair? Appreciate any urgent response, thank you.
BJ - 11-May-19 @ 6:58 AM
A self employed person works for the same company as I do and the director has told this person that he is not happy with the work progress and training results and hold told him to leave at end of month.The nearer the end date, the self employed person starts persistently begging for his job back, stating he 'does not know what he has done wrong', which is incorrect because he has been told multiple times - which is in front of witnesses, he refuses to accept that he has to leave and begs and begs until the director gives in - so now a president has been set.Is this a form of harassment by the self employed person toward the director?
Rain - 29-Apr-19 @ 1:33 PM
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