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My employer says Iím not eligible for maternity pay as Iím a worker rather than an employee. Is this right?

Some working women will get less than the statutory minimum for employees, without anyone breaking the law. This is because not everyone who works for someone else is an employee in the eyes of the law.

Some employers do try and circumvent their obligations by treating their staff as self-employed. You can even find that you are taxed as if you are employed but still denied the legal rights that an employee would enjoy. This is because legally you are a worker not an employee.

If your employer tells you that you are a worker rather than an employee, for example because you work from home, obtained work through an agency, or are a casual worker, you should seek legal advice and clarification as soon as possible. It may be that you are in fact an employee, despite the label your employer gives you. It is vital that you seek advice to be sure you get the leave and pay that is yours by rights. See our page 'Am I a worker or an employee?' for more information.

If you are a worker and don't meet the tests for being an employee, you may not get the full set of maternity rights, but you will still receive protections. For example, your employer must carry out health and safety risk assessments once you have notified it of your pregnancy, and if your work could involve a risk of harm to you or your baby. Also, if you suffer detrimental treatment as a result of your pregnancy you will be protected by the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

You may also qualify for Maternity Allowance, which is paid by the Government through your local JobCentrePlus office rather than through your employer. Maternity Allowance, like Statutory Maternity Pay, is paid for the first 39 weeks of the maternity leave period.