As the old “job for life” dies out, and more people trade the corporate world for independent, meaningful work, Britain’s freelance population is rising fast. But how can freelancers thrive in a world that is still set up for salaried employees? And what can be done to change that world to better support freelancers’ needs?
Last Wednesday, Hub Islington held its first event on freelancer’s rights: Freelancers Unite! Is it time for a Freelance Rights Movement?
The event brought together freelancers of all forms to discuss the revolution that is taking shape in the job market as well as the changes that need to be made to match it. After a couple of lively hours of discussion and debate, a few trends began to appear….
- A lot of conversations around freelance rights focus either on a precariat for whom traditional employment is no longer an option (unpaid interns, people who have been made redundant, people who work for below minimum wage on Elance or Odesk), or on highly-skilled, self-actualised individuals who freelance by choice and are compensated accordingly.
- Many of the people fell into both of these camps: whether simultaneously, or at different points in their career. Most people who attended were freelancers because they wanted to be freelancers, but freelancing also left some vulnerable when it came to issues like rates and payment terms – especially in competitive freelancer market (the majority of us working in the creative industries).
- Some of the key issues that were raised included: 1) getting clients to pay in a timely manner (or at all), 2) stagnant/declining pay rates in many industries, 3) difficulty negotiating rates and contracts with the companies that hire us (often it is NOT an even playing field), 4) being expected by clients to make the same sacrifices as an employee (eg, unpaid overtime) without the same benefits (paid holidays, stable income, etc), 5) freelancing not being treated as a respectable career path (even though more and more talented people are choosing to freelance).
The event was a great way to empower and unite freelancers. However this is only the first push in what will be an uphill struggle to gain the rights and benefits that freelancers deserve.
Make sure to keep an eye out on what The Hub Islington is up to as there will be plenty more events to come in support of the movement that is changing the way we work.
Get in touch with [email protected] if you have ideas on how to contribute to the Freelancer’s Rights movement.