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 young man in a wheel chair writing in his journal and working on his computer.

What Could a UBI Do For My Trade Union?

Catch up with musician Balraj Samrai, Labour MP John McDonnell and others on why unions should support a universal basic income (UBI), plus find out how you can be part of the movement too.

Published: 13 May 2024

Read more about What Could a UBI Do For My Trade Union?

Contact the Musicians' Union today

The MU has a network of experienced teams available to help musicians in all areas of the industry. If you have any questions about our services, membership or how the MU could help you, please don't hesitate to get in touch.