definition of a worker/employee


Employer/employee relationship

who is a worker/employee/servant

A contract of employment is a contract where A agrees to employ B, and B agrees to work for A. What is important here is the concept of agreement. In every contract of employment there must be a consensus between the two parties. The implication of this is that a person cannot be forced to work for another; neither can a person be forced to employ another.

In the old days when employment matters were merely domestic, the word “servant” was used to refer to a person who works for another. This is no longer fashionable in modern times. Nowadays, the word “servant” has been replaced with “worker” or “employee”.

It is said that the word “worker” is a little bit broad. If a person is taken as a worker in the legal sense, then that person is involved in a contract for service. In other words, where there is a relationship of master/servant or employer/employee in the legal sense, then they are involved in a contract of service and can be referred to as a worker.

On the other hand, there are persons who ordinarily are referred to as workers, but are really independent contractors. These persons are not workers in the legal sense, because they are engaged in a contract for services.

There are some situations in which it may be difficult to state whether an individual is actually a worker or not. These difficulties have given rise to the use of some tests to ascertain whether there is an employer/employee relationship in existence. These tests are:

  1. The control test
  2. The organization/integral test
  3. The multiple/economic reality test

The control test uses control as a basis for identifying whether there is an employer/employee relationship. In other words, does the employer control the employee in the way and manner in which the work is done? If the answer is yes, then there is an employer/employee relationship, but if there is no such control, then there is no employer/employee relationship.

The organizational test refers to where the work done is integrated into the organization. Once it can be identified that the job of the servant is integrated into the organization, then there is a relationship of master/servant.

Beyond the organizational test is the multiple tests. This test is a combination of both the control test and the organizational test, along with some other factors. In its application, four basic issues are used:

  1. Who controls the worker
  2. Who disciplines the worker
  3. Who pays the wages/salaries
  4. Who recruited the worker?

Where the employer has the power to carry out the above mentioned functions, then there is an employer/employee relationship in existence.