February 15, 2016
Politicians and legislators are failing to keep pace with the changing nature of work and as a result many of the UK’s growing army of freelancers feel like second class citizens. That is the key finding of a new report commissioned by the Government and authored by entrepreneur Julie Deane. She claims that the Government should do more to bring the self-employed into line with legislation affecting the wider working population, including access to higher rates of parental leave and pay. The report sets out ten key recommendations, notably that the parental allowance should be brought into line with the rules for employees, who are paid a higher portion of their salary for the first six weeks of statutory maternity pay before the percentage drops. It also suggests that the education system should do more to prepare young people for a changing world of work and that more should be done to offer a choice of workplaces for the self-employed..
The report confirms that self-employed people now make up around 15 percent of the UK workforce, around 4.6 million people. The report says that self-employment ‘should not mean that people are disadvantaged. It is important that with the increased growth in self-employment, and the subsequent benefits that this group brings to the economy, that there are systems in place to support the self-employed in the same way as the employed’.
The ten recommendations set out in the report are:
- There is a need for education to better prepare our young people for the role which self-employment might play in their future.
- Advice and support available should be as accessible as possible.
- There is a need for more flexible financial solutions including mortgages, insurance and pensions.
- There is a clear desire for equal treatment and recognition from the Government for the self-employed and discrepancies should be reviewed. The support provided by Government to those starting or extending a family should be consistent whether the beneficiary is employed or self-employed.
- Simplification and clarification of terminology of what is meant by self-employment should include a single definition for tax and employment law is desired and should be considered.
- Overly complicated legislation and administration is costly for the Government and burdensome to the growth of our businesses and needs addressing in a clear and common-sense manner.
- The impact of new policies does not currently take account of the self-employed and should do.
- The Government should review the administrative burden placed on the self-employed by the tax system.
- The location and availability of shared workspaces needs to be better communicated so as to increase awareness. Increased visibility of, and accessibility to, shared work spaces needs to be improved. Consideration should be given to incorporating such a space in local libraries and community centres bringing commercial activity and life to underutilised resources already in place.
- More should be done to promote a technological network which meets the disparate needs of different categories of the self-employed