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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

Guide to determining status: regularly working for one engager

An individual may have a number of short-term contracts with more than one engager which looked at individually would amount to employment but looked at together amount to self-employment. If that individual then begins to work virtually full-time for one engager the series of separate contracts with that engager may end and be replaced by a contract of employment.

On the other hand, the individual may start to work for just one engager because of better pay and conditions, ease of travel etc. But the underlying position may not change in that there is still a series of separate contracts. Where that happens the individual is likely to continue working under a series of contracts for services and to remain self-employed.

For those without an existing pattern of working for different engagers it is, as always, the full picture that matters. If the engagements themselves would otherwise amount to employment the fact that there is a series of them with the same engager is unlikely to alter this. Bear in mind though that someone starting in business may in practice work for the same engager under a series of contracts because he or she is unable to obtain contracts elsewhere. For example, a professional worker may start in business, set up an office and endeavour to obtain engagements in a particular field on a self-employed basis with a variety of engagers. If he or she continues to work in that vein but only manages to obtain work for part of the time through short-term contracts from one engager, the fact that only one engager is involved would not necessarily mean those engagements are employments.