Freelancers add monetary woes to a teary bank holiday commemorating the Queen

Yesterday’s historic, moving, and largely unifying national bank holiday failed to go down well with all freelancers and the self-employed.

In fact, despite lots of teary-eyed sole traders paying respects to the Queen at Her Majesty’s state funeral -- the reason for the bank holiday -- many went online to share the impact on their livelihoods.

'Bank holidays are no fun for freelancers'

“Look, I'll just say it,” began a novelist with four published books to her name, sounding aware that making financial complaints on a day of national mourning wouldn’t be popular.

“You know who extra [impromptu] bank holidays aren't fun for? People who are self-employed [as they only get paid when they actually do the work].”

At a glance of the Twittersphere, many leisure, education, music and drama facilities decided to close on the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral, out of respect for her 70 years of unparalleled service.

'Booked in work -- lost'

But freelancers at those facilities with work “booked in” for Monday, who were unable to reschedule it since the bank holiday was announced on September 10th, got left out-of-pocket.

Some freelancers in the arts sector also spoke of ‘making sure you get what [items] you need’ on Friday or Saturday, for any assignments today, given that the shops were shut yesterday.

Even freelancers in the media, design and digital sectors -- whose online work or supply to clients should be the least affected, probably still took a financial hit if they have children. 

'Self-employed parents can't afford not to work'

“Schools and childcare settings…close[d] forcing them to lose a day’s pay,” said campaigner PregnantThenScrewed.

“[But] self-employed parents cannot afford to take the day off work”.

The concern of the campaign group was taken further by a mum who works for herself as a journalist.

'Unfair on the 13 per cent'

“Anyone with a staff job will be paid or get time in lieu for the bank holiday. But about 13% of Brits are self-employed.

“We don’t get pension contributions, paid holidays or enhanced maternity pay…” wrote Alex Lloyd, who writes for the Mirror. “Not ideal after a pandemic and a cost of living crisis.”

In a sign of the sensitivities in play, none of the UK’s big three small business support groups have posted any updates or guidance for self-employed people adversely affected by a bank holiday that they were ‘unable to budget for,’ as one Twitter user described it.

'Bank holiday for Queen's funeral meant less money for those who work for themselves'

But responding to questions, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) confirmed that yesterday was indeed a real financial issue for people who have gone it alone.

“Whether they support it or not, the bank holiday [yesterday] will mean less money for many of those who work for themselves,” the association told FreelanceUK.

“It is yet another reminder of the perilous nature of self-employed income, especially when compared to employees who will, for the most part, see no difference in their pay cheques over this period.”

'Many self-employed felt the Queen's passing, deeply'

Shown the online comments by freelancers saying they are worse off due to their clients closing on the day that the Queen was laid to rest, IPSE’s Andy Chamberlain suggested such independent workers invariably feel conflicted.

“There will be many [self-employed people] who felt the passing of Her Majesty the Queen deeply, who would not wish to work on the day of the funeral and who support the bank holiday. That’s despite the fact it will inevitably result in a reduction of earnings,” he said.

In employer guidance released before the bank holiday, which ends a 10-day mourning period for Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the government said that only schools would be required to close, indicating that all other organisations should decide for themselves whether to close.

'Tears, strain and worry'

At IPSE, Mr Chamberlain signalled that the self-employed will now be glad to get back to some normality, even if their emotions are still getting the better of them.

“As well as the disruption to planned events and business activities that we have seen over the past week,” he said, “[yesterday’s tearful national bank holiday did] result in work opportunities being cancelled.”

Policy director at the association, Mr Chamberlain continued in a statement to FreelanceUK: “At a time when households are feeling the strain of the cost of living crisis, this will heap yet more financial strain and worry on those who work for themselves."

 

20th September 2022

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