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NUJ launches holiday pay for freelances campaign

5 November 2019

Today the NUJ has launched a new campaign seeking holiday pay for freelance media workers.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The proportion of freelances in our industry is greater than at any time, and many are denied holiday pay to which they are legally entitled. In court, the NUJ has secured holiday pay for numerous casuals and other regular freelances. We will continue to pursue such cases when they arise. More than 80 years after workers won the right to holiday pay, how much better it would be if media companies accepted their responsibilities and gave those who diligently apply their talents the paid rest they deserve."

Almost nine in 10 of the NUJ’s freelance members are not given holiday pay, a union survey has revealed. However, many freelances and casuals are entitled to paid leave in law.

In response the NUJ has launched a campaign to help members demand their rights, including new advice for union reps.

In the UK, workers are entitled to paid holiday of 5.6 weeks a year, equivalent to 28 days for someone on a five-day week.

Many media workers are labelled as 'casual' or 'self-employed', but they work in ways that gives them worker status.
You could be entitled to paid holiday if:

  • You do most of your work for one organisation, and you could still be eligible if you work for more than one organisation
  • You work under any contract, the contract does not have to be in writing
  • You do shifts in a workplace
  • Someone else controls your work, when and how you do it

The latest NUJ members’ survey shows that 88 per cent of freelance union members did not receive holiday pay.

Organisations often use standard contracts that state an individual is self-employed or an independent contractor. The union has successfully disputed this, winning members holiday entitlement and backpay.

The NUJ has already won an important tribunal decision over freelance holiday pay. NUJ freelance member, David Walsh, was awarded £8,360 based on his right to holiday pay. He had worked on a casual basis for Scotsman Publications Ltd for several years and although he had asked for holiday pay on several occasions, it was refused on the grounds that he was self-employed. The company relied on its standard freelance contract, which states that a freelance worker is self-employed and an independent contractor. An employment tribunal ruled that the reality of the working relationship was different, and that David met the statutory definition of 'worker'. By meeting this definition, he was entitled to paid holidays.
If you are an NUJ member and think you could be due holiday pay then contact the union via email:

Download the campaign leaflet

Download the NUJ workplace reps guidance

Tags: , freelance, freelance office, freelances, employment, employment law, employment rights, employment status, holiday pay