MPs back more rights for freelances
24 July 2009
More than a dozen UK Members of Parliament (MPs) have signed anearly day motion (EDM) demanding more rights for freelances who lose work during the recession.
The House of Commons EDM was initiated by the NUJ's parliamentary group as part of the union's Freelance Month. It calls for the introduction of redundancy pay for freelances based on the formula already used to calculate their holiday pay.
The NUJ is urging members and supporters who live in the UK to write to their MPs to ask them to support the EDM.
John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, called for the redundancy pay formula to be introduced during a speech to the Professional Contractors Group conference in June.
John Toner said:
"I'm delighted this idea is now being discussed in parliament. I urge NUJ members in the UK – particularly freelances – to write to their MPs and encourage friends and family to do the same.
"We need to secure enough signatures to make the government take notice."
Under UK employment law there is a category of person called a "worker" who has fewer rights them an "employee" but more than a purely self-employed person. Journalists doing casual shifts often fit into the "worker" category.
A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Freelance Sector, which took evidence from the NUJ and broadcasting union BECTU, has also called for more protection for freelances.
The report says:
"We are concerned at the plight of those in the media industry who are called freelance, or 'casual', when in fact they would wish for permanent positions.
"We would like to see the definition of the word 'worker' broadened to include all dependent workers and that these workers should have a statutory entitlement to workers' rights on a pro rate basis."
Labour's Nigel Griffiths, who chairs the all-party freelance group, was one of the MPs who tabled the Early Day Motion on rights for casuals.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"We are glad that UK politicians have recognised the precarious position of many freelance and casual workers who have no employment protection so cannot easily speak up for themselves in the workplace.
"We will continue our campaigning to put pressure on the government to change the law to give dependent workers like these the same rights as their staff colleagues."