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.