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How does the self-employed person differ from the employee?

Verified 01 January 2023 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The self-employed and the employee are not subject to the same regime. How do you tell them apart? The main criterion for distinguishing them is the link of legal subordination.


The self-employed person carries on an economic activity by being own account.

It autonomous in the management of his organisation, in the choice of his clients and in the pricing of his services.

Moreover, he is not bound by a contract of employment with the company or person for whom he carries out his mission. There is no subordination link between the contractor and the self-employed worker.

The person who meets any of the following conditions is presumed to be self-employed ::

  • Be registered in the course of business: Trade and businesses Register (CSR), National companies Register (NER), Commercial Agent Register (SFCR)
  • Company Leadership
  • Carrying out a commercial activity under the micro-social system
  • Set your own working conditions, unless they are defined by the contract with the payer

For example, a breeder, a farmer, a trader or a craftsman are self-employed.


If subordination link is established between the worker and the payer, the contract can be reclassified by the judge into an employment contract.


The employee is linked to an employer through a employment contract. He receives a salary or a salary in return for his work.

The employee and his or her employer shall be subject to the rules governing the employment contract and collective agreements applicable to the professional sector concerned.

The employer has a subordinate relationship with the employee: it can issue directives, monitor performance and sanction violations against him.

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