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information for domestic workers

All domestic employers in the UK are required by law to pay at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). It is a criminal offence for an employer to pay below the NMW, carrying a fine of up to £5,000 on conviction, unless you're living as part of the family household (i.e. without separately metered accommodation). For current NMW rates, please refer to our rates and thresholds page.

Your Rights

  • You can check if you are above the NMW from the payslips your employer should be providing you with. Simply divide your gross weekly wage by the number of hours you have worked to calculate your hourly wage
  • If you think that your employer is not paying the NMW you are also entitled to inspect the tax records they keep for your employment. They must give you access to these within 14 days of receiving a written request from you, but this should only be your final course of action after more friendly and informal communication between you has broken down
The working time directive
Domestic employees are exempt from the measures concerning working hours but are entitled to a 20 minute rest break for every six hours worked.
Home Domestic workers Can I be self-employed?
Domestic workers & self employment PDF Print E-mail
"Can I sort out my own tax and National Insurance?" this is a question we're frequently asked by domestic workers. Whether someone is employed or self-employed depends on the terms and conditions of their work. It is important for all employees to know their employment status as it affects employment and benefit rights, and how to pay tax and National Insurance Contributions.

It is equally important that the employer is absolutely certain whether their employee is employed or self-employed.

How to determine employment status
A worker is probably considered employed if they:

  • have to do the work themselves
  • can be told at any time what to do, where to carry out the work or when and how to do it
  • work a set amount of hours
  • can be moved from task to task
  • are paid by the hour, week or month
  • can be paid overtime or receive bonus payments

A worker is probably considered self-employed if they:

  • can hire someone else to do their work or engage helpers at their own expense
  • risk their own money
  • provide the main items of equipment needed to do their job, not just the small tools that many employees provide for themselves
  • agree to do a job for a fixed price regardless of how long the job may take
  • can decide what work to do, how and when to do the work and where to provide the services
  • regularly work for a number of people
  • have to correct unsatisfactory work in their own time and at their own expense

*Please note that these lists are not exhaustive.

The exception to the rule
It's clear to see that in most cases domestic workers do not meet HMRC's criteria for self-employment.

However in some cases HMRC do grant domestic workers self-employment status. It's important to remember, though, that transfer of self-employment status between jobs is not automatic, and each situation will need to be considered individually.

So in the vast majority of cases a domestic employee will be employed and it is up to their employer to register with HMRC, operate a PAYE scheme and pay tax and National Insurance Contributions on their behalf. Failure to declare an employee to avoid paying tax and NI is a criminal offence which can result in heavy penalties. It also affects statutory entitlements such as unemployment benefit, statutory maternity pay and state pension.