Queen's speech snubs freelancers

The Queen has been attacked for failing to mention the changing nature of work in the UK – an omission that undermines her pledge to economic stability, freelance communities have declared.

Opening parliament yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II delivered a hefty package of 29 Bills, which she said would help her government meet the challenges the “UK faces at home and abroad.”

But by focusing her speech on security, immigration, crime, and climate change, there was no room to mention work, employment status, tax, entrepreneurship or any kind of business.

In light of a landmark legal case that has muddied the waters on employment status, the PCG had hoped for some clarification, not least for hesitant firms unsure about hiring freelancers.

Instead the final Queen’s speech during Tony Blair’s premiership “offers little for the UK’s freelance workers,” the group said yesterday.

“There is much confusion around employment status in the UK,” explained John Thomas, its chief executive.

“How people work is changing and ways of working are becoming more diverse, but it is hard for people to enjoy the benefits of this when such uncertainty prevails.”

Some recognition came in June, when freelancing was spotlighted by declarations that employment law should not interfere with commercial relationships.

However this emerged from the International Labour Organisation, based in Geneva, not from the Head of State of the United Kingdom.

In a statement, the Professional Contractors Group (PCG) said by not addressing the issue yesterday, the UK had ‘missed an opportunity to clarify employment status along the same lines.’

A spokesman told Freelance UK: “Following the Muscat (V. Cable & Wireless) case and others, PCG would like the government to clarify the increasingly uncertain issue of employment status, so that companies know their options and hire people either on an employment basis or a commercial basis.”

Elsewhere in the Queen’s speech, there was some relevance for micro firms and freelance contractors, like the pledge to “equip people with the skills that they and the economy need”.

Welcomed by the Forum of Private Business, the optimism was tempered by the group’s concern over the strategy government will pursue to align graduates’ skills with employers’ needs.

“It is heartening that the government has taken notice of the skills gap,” said Nick Goulding, its chief executive.

“However more needs to be done to address the needs of smaller firms. Sector Skills Councils look great on paper but the reality is that they are not demand-led and simply design a system to accommodate the needs of larger companies.”

Praise to address the skills crisis also drew support from another small business lobbyist, The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which wants education to incorporate the practical needs of firms.

“Education reform must focus not only on vocational skills but also on providing young people with communication skills,” the FSB said.

The Federation added reform should include “an appreciation for the need to be punctual and well-presented. Such measures when combined would “boost the productivity of small businesses,” it said. Berbicara tentang situs sabung ayam yang ada di indonesia, ini permainanan taruhan yang diangkat dari sebuah budaya tradisional. Kini hadir halaman agen s1288 yang menyediakan taruhan sabung ayam s128 secara live streaming dengan begitu banyak arena sabung ayam yang tersedia. Daftar akun s128 dengan agen yang layak di indonesia.

Carol Undy, FSB national chairman, said proposals for a pay-as-you-go transport system will be regarded as another tax on small firms.

Separately, small businesses will need the government to act sensibly in wording the forthcoming immigration bill.

“Small businesses do not have the resources to deal with the administration burden of checking who is and who is not a legal worker.

“It is essential that the government does not require small firms to act as pseudo-immigration officers,” she said.

Over at the Forum of Private Business, its chief executive sounded a heartfelt appeal to conclude their reaction to the Queen’s speech, which they said was a mixture of both good and bad news.

“Small and medium-size businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy,” Mr Goulding said. “It is vital that they are not marginalised in the legislative process.”

The Queen yesterday said the government would reform the welfare system, enhance confidence in national statistics and proceed with the development of national identity cards.


16th November 2006

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