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

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

The self-employed person and the employee are not subject to the same system. How do we distinguish them? The main criterion for distinguishing them is the link of legal subordination.


The self-employed person pursues an economic activity by being at his own own account.

He is autonomous in the management of its organization, in the choice of its customers and in the pricing of its services.

Furthermore, he is not bound by a contract of employment with the company or person for whom he carries out his mission. There is no subordinate relationship between the contracting party and the self-employed person.

A person who meets one of the following conditions is presumed self-employed :

  • Be registered for its activity: Commercial and business Register (RCS), National company Directory (RNE), Commercial Agents Register (RSAC)
  • Being a company leader
  • To engage in a trade activity covered by the micro-social scheme
  • Self-determination of working conditions, unless they are defined in the contract with the contractor

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


If a subordinate relationship is established between the worker and the principal, the contract may be reclassified by the judge as an employment contract.


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

The employee and his employer are subject to the rules governing the employment contract and the collective agreements applicable to the professional sector concerned.

The employer has a subordinate relationship with the employee: he can issue directives, monitor the execution and penalize the non-compliance.