My employer says we can't access information and consultation rights as we're agency workers rather than employees. Is this right?

The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (ICE) use the term 'employees' throughout, particularly when referring to the 'trigger mechanism' (i.e. the means by which ballots on ICE rights are put in place).

An individual is only categorised as an employee if they have a contract of employment. The law in this area is very complicated. Some workers are excluded – for example, temporary agency workers (unless they are direct employees of the agency, which must itself consult with them) and freelancers.

False self-employment, where individuals are really workers or employees but are given documentation that makes it look as if they are “self-employed”, is a growing problem in the UK economy, especially for low-paid workers in the so-called “gig economy”. False self-employment is used to help the employer to avoid tax and national insurance obligations, as well as escaping statutory employment obligations like the requirement to pay the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay and rights to be consulted.

More information on the difference between workers and employees

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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