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To ask for help working out if I'm really self employed or a worker

(17 Posts)
Umbrellaaa Thu 28-Feb-19 00:25:55

I 'work for' an online company which provides a service through a network of 'self employed' workers such as myself, to the public.

We were told we are self employed and had to set up limited companies, however we are told how many hours / days a week we have to have available for the customers to book in for us to visit them for appointments, we have to work in a set format and follow strict procedures and complete tasks such as follow up calls within a set time period (usually X hours), we get paid a set commission per job completed, we don't get to choose which jobs / customers we accept regardless of travel time / distance and do not receive any petrol / car allowance, and we have no say in the price charged to customers or how a service is provided. We cannot send another person to complete a job on our behalf. We cannot decline business.
We work under the name of the big online company.

For years the majority of us have been paid a guaranteed top up commission on top of the commission per job because appointment numbers provided by the company we 'work for' aren't always high enough for us to make a decent living and we aren't able to really self generate business, but suddenly with very little warning we have been told this additional commission will only be paid if we meet very strict criteria (which is unrealistic) and if not, regardless of how many hours of work, travel, admin and appointment time we have worked, we will only get a very basic commission per job.

This month I have worked around 80 hours a week and on basic commission only would only take home £200 if I don't meet the criteria needed for the top up. The criteria is exceptionally high and of the 12 people in my region, one 2 would meet them this month. For the last 3 + years the 'guaranteed top up commission' has been paid with no questions and was seen as more a salary. We all got the same.

I don't get sick pay, paternity pay, holiday, a pension, and pay my own corporation, personal and value added tax, expenses and accountancy and have no say in how things are done.

It has been suggested that I am actually a 'worker' and the company is an umbrella company and although self employed for tax purposes - I may be classed as a worker for employment law purposes and actually entitled to Paternity leave, sick pay, holiday, minimum wage..etc. There have been many cases recently including with Uber of similar situations.

Has anyone got any experience with this?

newmumwithquestions Thu 28-Feb-19 00:33:20

Hopefully someone more helpful will be along soon but I can tell you you’re not a contractor, not under the IR35 regulations. And if you’re not a contractor then I’d think maybe you are ‘working as an employee’.

newmumwithquestions Thu 28-Feb-19 00:34:03

And the company you work for sound rubbish!

TheRoadNotTaken Thu 28-Feb-19 00:45:17

Maybe try filling this in? www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax

It sounds to me like their are more indicators for being employed than for being self employed.

mumofthreebutmoretocome Thu 28-Feb-19 01:06:41

Was £200 a typo, was it supposed to be £2000???

myhamsteratefreddiestarr Thu 28-Feb-19 01:06:54

It sounds like you are talking about a coloured building block? I know someone who works for them, crazy hours and the money getting less and less.

IMO you should all be employees, (I’m an accountant) but unless HMRC do something about it, they will continue to get away with it.

It’s the reason they offer such a cheap service. They get all the money while someone else does all the work.

BarbaraofSevillle Thu 28-Feb-19 06:58:58

Intrigued as to who this is. From what you have said, you are almost certainly an employee, and the link posted by road above will probably confirm this.

It's time this sort of exploitation was outlawed, because it invariably involves individuals working long hours for peanuts
and no employment rights, while huge companies coin it in.

topcat2014 Thu 28-Feb-19 07:05:14

One thing you are not is 'self employed' as you are in fact working for a limited company (even though it is your own company).

To be self employed, you work literally for yourself with no legal bits in between. That may help when trying to read the various bits on google/hmrc etc.

Intermediaries legislation is not my area (I am a finance director), but I would imagine you may well be a 'worker'.

Loopytiles Thu 28-Feb-19 07:27:20

So your interest is in status under employment law rather than tax. Most cases, eg Uber, have focused on establishing “worker” status, for holiday pay, or minimum wage.

ACAS can provide info.

The problem is that if you take legal action-l - eg if you find a lawyer to take this on “no win no fee” - you may well lose your job. Little negative impact in the UK for companies who fire people for seeking fairer treatment IMO.

Gth1234 Thu 28-Feb-19 14:55:28

Being employed/self employed is a scale, rather than black and white.

It really only resolves if a HMRC tax inspector takes umbrage with the employer's work practices. As with Uber and similar eventually a court has to decide.

The company/employer saves money by avoiding sick pay, holiday pay, redundancy, and minimum wage. A successful employee may be happy with the arrangement (eg many BBC presenters), but in the end the HMRC and courts have the final decision.

Travis1 Thu 28-Feb-19 14:59:39

You definitely don't sound 'self employed' in the normal sense of the word and definitely hope the £200 is a typo! Either way I'd be looking for a new job.

Tomtontom Thu 28-Feb-19 15:02:23

It really only resolves if a HMRC tax inspector takes umbrage with the employer's work practices.

Or the worker takes the organisation to a tribunal.

Comefromaway Thu 28-Feb-19 15:03:10

You don't sound self employed to me. You sound like you are being exploited.

NoSquirrels Thu 28-Feb-19 21:18:21

I don't see the advantage in you staying in this job? Sounds rubbish! Was £200 a typo - is it usually lucrative if you get the 'top-up' rate? More lucrative than setting up alone? Because you haven't really listed many benefits!

gotin2amess Fri 01-Mar-19 08:29:12

Hi,

I do not work for the same company as OP, but I am also classed as 'freelance' or 'self employed' when, in actual fact, there are set deadlines, mandatory training, performance monitoring and so on as part of the job. The only difference between this freelance status and being employed is that I have no sick pay, no holiday pay and allocations of work can be cut with no notice or compensation.

In fact, I was at a meeting with this company (mandatory) recently and representatives from the company were suggesting that this 'freelancing' model would probably become the norm in the sector in which I work because it is so much cheaper that the traditional model of provision.

oblada Fri 01-Mar-19 08:35:05

If you are asking then you are not most likely a worker. Possibly an employee but certainly a worker. You're only self employed if you 1) can send in a substitute to carry out the work and/or 2) you are genuinely running your own business with your own goodwill/tools/brand all out of your own free will.

oblada Fri 01-Mar-19 08:35:46

Oops not sure where the 'not' came from. 'You are most likely a worker'

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