The next major opening for changes to how freelancers operate has been urged to avoid policy ideas for the self-employed that smack of ‘one-size-fits all.’
Professor Andrew Burke, chair of the Centre for Research on Self-Employment, told the Taylor Review that such “broad-brush” policy recommendations would be “very dangerous” to genuine freelancers.
“Public policy must be specifically suited to the various segments of the self-employed workforce,” said Prof Burke, who is also the dean of Trinity Business School.
“One-size-fits-all policy approaches to the treatment of taxation and rights for the self-employed…carry a great risk to the UK economy.”
The Taylor Review’s evidence gathering tour, consisting of ten sector-specific events around the UK, will tackle issues central to self-employment such as the gig economy.
In the fourth review event, Prof Burke provided evidence alongside guests from Uber, Northern Ireland Citizen Advice and Northern Ireland TUC.
“Safeguards are required to protect low skilled precariat, sometimes bogus, self-employed,” he said, in comments likely to be welcomed by the Labour Party, which has been vocal about fake self-employment.
“But simultaneously, good policy should protect the freedom and legitimise genuine higher skilled ‘privileged’ freelancers. [These] genuine freelancers are distinguished by their ability to do project-based work, receive payment for the output of their work and have multiple clients.”
As a result, any new legislation to create rights for vulnerable self-employed people, or to target those using ‘sham’ freelance arrangements, must not prevent those already in business of their own account from continuing to add “great value” to the economy, Prof Burke believes.
“I also support the Taylor Review’s suggestions that the government should give more support to parents considering self-employment as a means of working more flexibly in order to deal with childcare commitments,” he said.
The Taylor Review arrives at a time when the Centre for Research in Self-Employment is conducting segmentation analysis to distinguish between the different segments of self-employment for purposes of tax, benefits and employment law.
The centre said it
intends to illustrate that “differentiated policy approaches are required which
recognise and cater to the differing needs of the self-employed.”