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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Agency and temporary workers: agency legislation - provisions from 6 April 2014: supervision, direction or control example - market researcher

Part 2, Chapter 7 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, Part 2, Chapter 7, section 44(2)(a)

Social Security (Categorisation of Earners) Regulations 1978, Schedule 1, Part 1, paragraph 2

Market researcher

Sally is a Market Researcher. This work normally involves her providing her services to various businesses or organisations by working from the main shopping areas in various city centres, during which time she asks passers-by general questions on a wide range of subjects, recording their answers on questionnaires which she then sends off to her client for analysis. Sally provides her services to her various clients via an employment business that finds her regular work.

A medical research organisation contact Sally’s employment agency and ask them to supply two market researchers for three days’ work, which will entail approaching members of the public in the main shopping area of Liverpool City Centre and asking them various lifestyle related questions. Sally is offered the engagement and she accepts.

Sally meets with the medical research organisation who tells her the work will entail asking members of the public specific questions about their lifestyle, as contained upon a questionnaire, upon which she will record their answers. She will be given three-hundred questionnaires to be completed over the next three days, and is free to work her chosen hours, provided all of the questionnaires are completed. Sally will be working alongside another market researcher who will be doing exactly the same work as Sally.

Sally is then given an identification badge showing she represents the medical research company. She is also handed a ‘details of engagement’ document containing her client’s requirements with regards to the work she will be doing for them. This is not a contractual document. It states that Sally must stick to a specific script each time she approaches a member of the public, which explains the purpose of the research, why their input is sought and how their information provided will be used. Sally is told she must be smartly dressed at all times and must always display her identification badge. She must be polite and courteous and she must respect anyone’s wishes not to participate. She must ask all of the questions in the specific order contained on the questionnaire and ensure a broad range of people complete the questionnaires (that is, all ages, male and female, people from different ethnic origins, and so on), to ensure the information obtained is a proportionate representation of the general public.

Sally sets to work at nine am on her first day and, always sticking to her script, she manages to get one-hundred-and-twenty questionnaires completed by a broad spectrum of people before she calls it a day and returns home at four pm. She then starts work at ten am the following day and, working the same ways she did the day before, she manages to get another one-hundred-and-thirty-five questionnaires completed before calling it a day and returning home at three pm. Having already obtained two-hundred-and-fifty-five completed questionnaires, Sally decides to have a shorter day on her third and last day. She starts work at ten am and, by noon, she has managed to secure all three-hundred completed questionnaires provided to her by the client for completion. She then mails those three-hundred questionnaires to the client in the mailbag they provided. Sally’s work on this engagement is now over.

In this scenario, Sally has not been subject to any supervision by anyone, nor were there any provisions in place whereby someone could supervise Sally in her work.

Whilst she worked alongside another market researcher, that person was hired to do exactly the same job as Sally and would not have been in a position to supervise her. However, the medical research company did direct and control how Sally must do the work, by dictating: (i) where she did her work, (ii) that she must approach a broad range of people in a specific way, (iii) she must provide the public with specific information about the research at the outset, and (iv) always stick to asking specific questions in sequential order (as contained upon the questionnaires) recording the publics answers accordingly.

Sally did not therefore have any freedom to choose how to do the work herself. Sally was therefore subjected to direction and control as to the manner in which she provided her services and the agency legislation will therefore apply to this scenario, provided the other conditions of the agency legislation are also met.