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HMRC internal manual

Employment Status Manual

Agency and temporary workers: individual engagements

An individual short-term engagement can be either a contract of employment or a contract for services (or some other contract). The fact that there is no obligation on the engager’s part to provide work beyond the individual engagement is neither here nor there.

In O’Kelly and Others v Trusthouse Forte plc [1984] 1 QB 90 (see ESM7100), casual catering staff were found to be self-employed. However, the O’Kelly case is certainly not authority for concluding that all casual staff are self-employed as it is sometimes claimed. The employment status of a temporary worker was also considered by the Court of Appeal in the case of Secretary of State v McMeechan (see ESM7180). By contrast with the O’Kelly case, it decided that Mr McMeechan had been an employee even though the engagement only lasted for a very short period of time.