Article Great Britain: Government Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Employment Status and Guidance

On July 26, 2022, the British government published its response to a consultation into the current law governing employment status, along with guidance to provide clarity to individuals and employers. The consultation sought to determine whether the employment status laws should be reformed, the impact and implications of any proposals, and whether there was an alternative way to provide greater clarity and certainty to businesses and individuals over these laws. In its response to the consultation, the government acknowledged

that the employment status framework for rights works for the majority, but that boundaries between the different statuses can be unclear for some individuals and employers. However, the benefits of creating a new framework for employment status are currently outweighed by the potential disruption associated with legislative reform. Although such reform could help bring clarity in the long term, it might create cost and uncertainty for businesses in the short term, at a time where they are focusing on recovering from the pandemic.

The employment status framework sets out what rights and protections an individual is entitled to in their workplace, such as pay, leave, and working conditions. Employment law classifies workers in three categories: self-employed and contractor, worker, and employee. Employment laws provide workers in each of these classifications with different employment rights, as well as distinct tax obligations. While the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides the definition of employee and worker, a person’s employment status is not determined only by the written contract between the worker and employer. The nature of the relationship between the individual and all the circumstances of the case must be taken into account, and a large body of case law has built up around this area to help determine a person’s employment status.

The government noted that the employment status framework has been effective for the majority of people and the approach has helped “to create a flexible and dynamic labour market but has led to some individuals not understanding their employment status,” most notably “gig workers.” It stated that while the majority of responses to the consultation were supportive of the reform of the law governing employment status, there was no general consensus as to the form the reform should take. As a result, to help provide clarity, the government has published guidance to help both businesses and individuals know what rights and obligations they have.

The guidance compiles case law affecting employment status, and the government has stated that it will benefit workers and employers, most notably gig workers, by providing clarity over their employment status. The guidance will help workers understand the rights they are entitled to and “enable[] them to check [if] their workplace is treating them fairly.” The government has described the guidance as “tidying up the rules.”

The government also intends that the guidance will benefit start-up businesses and small- and medium-sized enterprises by providing them with clarity, thus reducing the risk of their unintentionally breaking the law, as well as acting to “curb unscrupulous employers from attempting to exploit the system in order to save on employment costs.”

About this Item

Title

  • Great Britain: Government Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Employment Status and Guidance

Online Format

  • web page

Rights & Access

Publications of the Library of Congress are works of the United States Government as defined in the United States Code 17 U.S.C. §105 and therefore are not subject to copyright and are free to use and reuse.  The Library of Congress has no objection to the international use and reuse of Library U.S. Government works on loc.gov. These works are also available for worldwide use and reuse under CC0 1.0 Universal. 

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Credit Line: Law Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Great Britain: Government Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Employment Status and Guidance. 2022. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-09-15/great-britain-government-publishes-response-to-public-consultation-on-employment-status-and-guidance/.

APA citation style:

(2022) Great Britain: Government Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Employment Status and Guidance. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-09-15/great-britain-government-publishes-response-to-public-consultation-on-employment-status-and-guidance/.

MLA citation style:

Great Britain: Government Publishes Response to Public Consultation on Employment Status and Guidance. 2022. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-09-15/great-britain-government-publishes-response-to-public-consultation-on-employment-status-and-guidance/>.