skip to main content

Find out which employment status types exist. Get our advice on Employment Contracts and get use of our employment legal advice when you are an MU member. We also provide guidance for employed music teachers, including a guide on Employment Status for Instrumental and Vocal Teachers and guidance for self-employed, zero-hour and home working music educators.

Types of employment status

In the UK different types of employment status attract certain important legal rights. When you get hired or employed as a musician, it is essential that you know if you are an employee, a worker or self-employed.

Employee status

An employee is a person who works under a contract of employment. Key tests for employment status are:

  • Mutual obligations
  • Personal service: you must provide your own work or skill in the performance of service for the employer (i.e. you cannot deputise the work).
  • Control: the employer controls how your work is carried out.

Worker status

A worker is a person who has entered into or works under a contract of employment, or any other contract whereby they undertake to provide personal service.

Key tests for worker status are:

  • Personal service: you must provide your own work or skill in the performance of the service but you can have a limited power to deputise to a substitute.
  • Business undertaking: you should not be genuinely self-employed with the other party to the contract being a genuine customer or client of your business undertaking.
  • Mutual obligations

Self-employed status

If you are not an employee or a worker then you will probably be self-employed. In this case the teacher offers their service as an independent contractor, known as a ‘contract for services’. 

This means that you (the contractor) have control over when, where and how you deliver the work and should be able to set fees and deputise the work if you wish to. You are also responsible for organising your own tax and National Insurance contributions.

Be clear about whether you are employed or self-employed in your work. You should always work under a contract which sets out terms and conditions such as holiday pay, sickness pay and parental or adoption pay. If your employer or engager proposes any changes to your contract then get in touch with your Regional Office

Not sure about your status or rights at work?

If you are unsure about your employment status, or whether you are receiving the rights you are due, contact your Regional Office immediately.

Member services

Employment Legal Advice & Assistance

If you are offered a contract of employment, or a contract that requires you to provide personal service, we will arrange for a specialist employment lawyer to review it and provide you with appropriate advice on the contract.

Read more about Employment Legal Advice & Assistance

Latest news and features

A woman is looking in the mirror and adjusting her hearing aid in the mirror.

Government Response to Consultation on Sexual Harassment Welcomed

The Government has responded to the consultation on sexual harassment with a number of commitments, and the MU wishes to congratulate everyone involved in making this happen, including MU members who contributed to the consultation.

Published: 22 July 2021

Read more about Government Response to Consultation on Sexual Harassment Welcomed
Woman applies hand sanitizer to a child wearing a facemask and a rainbow coloured t-shirt.

Impact of Re-opening in England on Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Members

We fully support We Shall Not Be Removed’s seven inclusive principles, and Art Council England’s statement on inclusive recovery – and wish to state our continued commitment to supporting members and lobbying the Government for better support and clearer guidance.

Published: 20 July 2021

Read more about Impact of Re-opening in England on Clinically Extremely Vulnerable Members

Need to talk to us?

Contact your Regional office

#BehindEveryMusician

Protect Government funding for the arts in Higher Education

Government is planning to impose a 50% funding cut on residual funding for music and arts subjects at HE level.

Protect Government funding for the arts in Higher Education