Code of Practice for determining Employment or Self-Employment status of Individuals

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Introduction - Code of Practice in determining Employment status

This leaflet was prepared by the Employment Status Group set up under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. The group was set up because of a growing concern that there may be increasing numbers of individuals categorised as ‘self employed’ when the ‘indicators’ may be that ‘employee’ status would be more appropriate. The leaflet has been updated in 2007 by the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group under Towards 2016 Social Partnership Agreement. The purpose of the document is to eliminate misconceptions and provide clarity. It is not meant to bring individuals who are genuinely self-employed into employment status.

In most cases it will be clear whether an individual is employed or self-employed. However, it may not always be so obvious, which in turn can lead to misconceptions in relation to the employment status of individuals.

The criteria below should help in reaching a conclusion. It is important that the job as a whole is looked at, including working conditions and the reality of the relationship, when considering the guidelines. An important consideration in this context, will be whether the person performing the work does so “as a person in business on their own account”. Is the person a free agent with an economic independence of the person engaging the service? This consideration can be a useful indicator of the person’s status and should be considered in conjunction with the other criteria listed in this code of practice.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005 is the cornerstone of health and safety regulation in Ireland. Employers and Employees all have duties under the act. The legislation treats self-employed persons in a similar manner to employers. It places on them an onus to manage, plan and conduct all work activities to ensure the health and safety of all persons at a workplace. Generally speaking selfemployed persons and contractors have a greater responsibility to manage health and safety issues than employees. However, regardless of a person’s status, health and safety management and practice is essential in all work operations. More information is available from

Last modified:30/07/2010

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