Engaging self-employed people

Colleges and Services are reminded that, to meet the requirements of employment law and tax law and to safeguard the University’s position as an employer, the University expects most individuals engaged to work by the University to be employed on a contract of employment (approved via the eSR1 process). The claims payroll should only be used for engagements which are ad hoc or of very short duration.

However in some circumstances it may be necessary to issue a ‘contract for services’ and engage someone on a self-employed basis. A self-employed individual provides the employer with his or her services, but remains independent. The contract between the individual and the University is ‘a contract for services’. Typically there may be an ability to provide alternative individuals to carry out the work in question. Services may also be provided through a company. Self-employed workers are not entitled to statutory employment rights. 

Please note that the PD91 form is no longer in use.  An Employment Status Questionnaire should be completed and retained by the College/Service (For staff in UEMS please request a requisition number from UEMS Finance before completion).  Please go to the Procedure Checklist for further information.

HMRC regulations

For income tax and national insurance purposes, the employment relationship is ultimately determined with specific reference to HMRC regulations. The fact that a person is registered with HMRC as self-employed does not necessarily mean that HMRC would regard the work to be provided to the University is of a self-employed nature.

The government has introduced changes to the taxation of Personal Service Companies (PSC) engaged by public sector organisations from April 2017.  The intention of the changes is to ensure that where an individual offers services through a company to a third party (such as the University) but the nature of the relationship is more akin to an employee of the third part, then the individual should be taxed as if they were an employee. See section on Personal Services Companies (IR35).


It is the responsibility of the College or Service engaging the individual to determine whether the engagement should be on a self-employed (contract for services) basis. There may not be a definitive, clear answer as to whether the individual is self-employed or not, but a judgement needs to be made based on the evidence supplied.  In the majority of cases an employee of the university would not be deemed to be carrying out any additional work on a self employed basis.  

If the College/Service are in any doubt then they should contact their Human Resources Business Partner/Manager/Advisor for further advice.

The purpose of this guidance is to inform the decisions made by Colleges and Services and to ensure that appropriate records are maintained.