'Self-employed' label used to deny paid holiday

Self-employment has again been given a bad name -- this time in a new study claiming that some employers are using it to deny workers up to 28 days’ yearly paid holiday.

In fact, telling people they are self-employed when, in reality, their working practices make them full-time workers is the most common way that employers deny paid holiday, found Citizens Advice.

But these rogue employers, often said to be in the ‘gig economy,’ have several tactics beyond using self-employment to keep people working, and not paid to take a legally-entitled break.

For example, one man who worked nights for over five years was told night workers were ineligible for paid holiday. A woman who worked in sales was lied too as well, as her employer claimed paid holiday depended on her hitting her targets.

But because exploiting people’s understanding about self-employment (whether it applies to them and the differences in rights and protections it entails), is the most common holiday-pay-depriving tactic, Citizens Advice wants ministers to act.

It says the government should “define self-employment in law,” so the status can no longer be exploited to keep people (who are akin to ‘workers’) from paid holidays, the minimum wage and sick pay, the charity says.

The call to set self-employment in stone will please freelancers’ trade body IPSE, because it too is campaigning for the government to enshrine what it means to be self-employed.

And speaking late last month, the head of the Taylor Review into modern work practices has strongly implied he agrees, indicating that a legally-binding definition of self-employment will be among the review's soon-to-be tabled recommendations to the government.


9th May 2017

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