Freelances need holiday pay too: do you qualify?

  • 18 Mar 2021

Uber drivers will now – following a long legal battle – get holiday pay, but according to an NUJ survey almost nine in 10 freelances said they did not receive it.

Are you losing out? 

The NUJ has been successful in winning holiday pay and backpay for many of its members.

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 members are labelled “casual” or “self-employed”, but they work in ways that gives them worker status.   

Holiday pay rights are just one of the demands on the NUJ’s Freelance Charter 

 You could be a worker and entitled to paid holiday if: 

  • You do most of your work for one organisation (you may also be eligible if you work for more than one organisation).. 
  • You work under any contract (it doesn’t need to be in writing) to do the work personally. 
  • You do shifts in a workplace. 
  • Someone else controls your work, when and how you do it. 

Paid holiday is an important social right and going without breaks can threaten your health.

Pamela Morton, national freelance organiser, said:

“Uber’s decision is welcomed for its thousands of drivers, but it’s taken six years of court cases and individuals who were brave enough to take on these huge companies. We’ve also seen similar court decisions with Addison Lee and Pimlico Plumbers.  Companies want to exert vast amounts of control over individuals and how they do their work but then treat them as self-employed with no rights or protections.  

"We know that companies use what the Supreme Court scathingly referred to in the Pimlico Plumbers case as “carefully choreographed” contracts to attempt to evade their responsibilities to those who work for them.  Individuals should not have to navigate confusing legal terms such as 'Limb B Worker' or employment tribunals to have protection and our Freelance Charter and Fair Deal for Freelances campaign calls for rights regardless of employment status.”

Case study

The NUJ won an important tribunal victory on behalf of a freelance member, David Walsh, who was awarded £8,360 based on his right to holiday pay. He had worked on a casual basis for Scotsman Publications Ltd for a number of 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 the freelance 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.


Guidance for workplace reps on employment status

When is a casual not a casual?

05 November 2019
Holiday pay campaign leaflet

Should you be getting paid holiday?

05 November 2019
Holiday pay poster

Should you be getting paid holiday?

30 September 2019
Freelance Charter

10-point charter for freelances rights and benefits.

19 November 2020

Contact [email protected] for campaign leaflets and advice. 

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