As many are considering the jump from permanent employment to freelance work, much of their decision lies in the tradeoff. The main appeal of freelancing is the freedom that one gets – but it’s often at the price of the security that comes with permanent employment. This of course, is the same permanent employment that is on the decline as many try to escape the shackles of the 9-5 grind and companies look to becoming more liquid.
This is prompting many to ask, is there a form of employment where one doesn’t have to compromise their freedom or security? Brendan Martin’s blog post “Freedom and Security At Work: Can We Have Both?” explored this question.
Martin, who attended both the Hub Islington’s Freelancers Unite! event, as well as a seminar at Unison, the Public Service Workers Union, had the following comments. The Hub’s Freelancers Unite! event was composed mostly of freelancers in the creative industries who were happy to be self-employed and have overcome some of the isolation by hot desking at the Hub. The Unison seminar featured more self-employed home care workers who were facing issues of being employed in a freelance style, but facing even worse hours than that of a regularly employed worker without any of the benefits.
It seems that while some workers are just focused on having their worker’s rights (broken contracts, low fees, late payment and copyright infringement) protected, no-one there said they wanted a ‘job’, because they much prefer the relative autonomy and flexibility of freelance life. Martin recommended that unions need to begin to focus on the both sides of what he calls the “dual challenges (Martin 2013).” There tends to be an underlying assumption that the price freelancers pay for their freedom is insecurity, and the price employees pay for their security is lack of freedom. But many workers now have neither, and our aspiration should be both.
What do you think? Are freelancers expecting too much for themselves? Should they feel entitled to have the best of both worlds and if so how far should they go to meet that expectation?
Get a discussion going with other freelancers and make sure to stay on the lookout for future freelance events at the Hub Islington.
Written by Sam McClenney
Uses information provided by Brendan Martin, a writer for Public World, a social enterprise dedicated to providing services to private and civil society organisations.