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#FD4F: NUJ launches campaign to fight for freelances’ rights

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25 November 2020

The NUJ has launched a major campaign to fight for a better deal for freelances.

The Chancellor initially rode to the rescue with a Covid-19 job support scheme which succeeded in completely leaving out the self-employed and, after intense lobbying from trade unions, followed up with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, but many freelances found themselves without a safety net. The NUJ, TUC and other unions have pleaded with the Chancellor to put things right and he has yet again passed the chance to do that in his Spending Review.

Covid-19  has laid bare the precarious position of a major section of the UK’s employed sector, particularly in the media where more than a third are freelance.

Pamela Morton, NUJ national freelance organiser, said:

"The pandemic has exacerbated the precarious nature of freelance employment, which within the present legislation leaves the self-employed without many of the benefits and protections enjoyed by their colleagues with staff jobs.That is why the NUJ has launched a major campaign calling for radical reform and a fair deal for freelances.”

The problem has been the piecemeal employment law that leaves the self-employed vulnerable to employers who place them on unsuitable employment terms.They pay their taxes, but have no right to holidays, sick, parental or pregnancy leave.The government-commissioned Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices (July 2017) explored the tax and employment rights of freelances, but its recommendations have been largely ignored so the NUJ has urged the government to align the employment status framework with the tax status framework.

Francis Sedgemore, chair of the union’s Freelance Industrial Council, said:

"Government support for working people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that, despite all the talk of nurturing small businesses and the need for entrepreneurial spirit, there has been antipathy towards the plight of the self-employed. As the ranks of the union’s self-employed looks to become swelled as the number of journalist redundancies rise, it’s time to take stock and provide a proper legal framework for the sector.”

The creative industry is a major growth sector which is worth more than £111bn to the UK economy, so why is this group of working people so badly treated and bereft of the many rights most employees take for granted? In this video creative workers talk about how the pandemic has affected them and why it is important to have a union in such times and Mark Fisher explains how vital journalism has been.

#FairDeal4Freelances includes a charter of freelance rights which sets out the benefits the self-employed should enjoy. It calls for the right to organise in a trade union, to have a written contract with fair terms and conditions, prompt payment and equal treatment at work in terms of health and safety. Freelances should get holiday pay, parental leave and allowances and a retirement pension. They should have the right to resist companies forcing them on to PAYE, to incorporate as a limited company, or work under umbrella companies.

The campaign will ask employers, employer organisations, industry bodies, politicians and individual supporters to sign up to its aims.

Find out more on the #FD4F campaign page

Tags: , fair deal for freelances, forgotten freelances, freelances, freelance, self-employed, self-employed income support scheme, covid-19, tax, holiday pay, parental leave, pension, freelance charter, paye, limited companies