Prioritise giving us sick pay, freelancers say

Freelancers are interested in receiving sick pay ahead of any other statutory benefit, a study shows.

The provision to cover periods if illness would be better than maternity pay, Job Seeker’s Allowance or pension auto-enrolment, shows the study of 900 freelancers and micro-traders.

Seeming to explain why sick pay is the priority, more than three-quarters of the freelancers admitted they have no way to cover for illness or other reasons for not working.

Industry body the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association and FreeAgent, an online accounting platform, ran the study ahead of the imminent publication of the Taylor Review.

“The forthcoming Taylor review will be looking closely into this issue [of extending some statutory benefits to the self-employed]”, said the platform’s boss Ed Molyneux.

“The government needs to acknowledge the tremendous financial risks associated with starting and running your own business and bear this in mind when deciding on its future tax policies.”

Molyneux, an ex-freelancer, believes that ideally, freelancers would be granted the same statutory entitlements as their employed counterparts, “especially if they will be expected to pay the same level of tax.”

The expectation refers to the government’s attempt to raise self-employed National Insurance Contributions which, although cancelled by prime minister Theresa May, is still thought to be a policy intention.

But lumping all people who work for themselves into the same category could foist unwanted protections onto some of the atypical workforce, the FreeAgent-FCSA study suggests.

In fact, respondent’s appetites for additional benefits varied depending on the structure of their business.

Sole traders, for example, are more likely to value benefits (rating sickness provision 8.7 out of 10) compared to those working through their own limited companies, who gave a score of 6.4 out of 10 for sickness provision.

“For many people who work for themselves, self-employment is a career choice and those who choose it know that this way of working does not come with statutory benefits,” said FCSA chief executive Julia Kermode.

“Not all self-employed workers want the same things, so there is no one-size fits all solution… [indicating that] the government should find a way of offering additional benefits specifically to those people who want and need them.”


30th June 2017

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