Can freelancers have both freedom and security in their work? Last Wednesday, Hub Islington brought together a group of 20 freelancers to answer this very question, as part of our 50 Day exploration of freelancing and freelancers rights.
Whether you’d never dream of going back to an office job, or you’re just freelancing for a few months between gigs, there’s no doubt about it: freelancing is on the rise, with more than 1.6 million freelancers in the UK, and 4.5 million self-employed people.
Despite this, we still live in a world that revolves around the traditional employee/employer relationship. In exchange for the freedom to do the work we most care about for the clients we want to work with, we give up not only a regular salary, but with it pensions, maternity leave, holiday pay, and even the ability to apply for a home loan. Many freelancers feel that their work isn’t respected as “real work,” resulting in underpayment (or no payment at all), and an uneven playing field which makes it difficult for freelancers to negotiate terms and contracts with the people who hire them.
So, what can we do to change that? Following on from the Hub’s successful freelancing event in May, Public World managing director (and Hub Kings Cross member) Brendan Martin and Hub Islington member host Rachel Hills led a stimulating conversation on the freelance rights movement, focused on the specific issues freelancers face and what can be done to solve them.
As Brendan Martin put it at the end of the night, the resulting conversation could be divided into three categories, each requiring a different approach: Rights (what freelancers are legally entitled to, and how do we enforce those entitlements?); Norms (how freelancers are treated, and how to change our standing to ensure we are treated better?); and Tips (how are individual freelancers navigating issues around contracts, payment, and so on, and how can we learn from each other?).
Following on from the event, Hub Islington have started work on a PDF resource to help freelancers, contractors and other solo professionals deal with some of the issues they face, to be published at the conclusion of our 50 Days of Freelancing campaign.
Stay tuned also for our next big 50 Days of Freelancing event with on Wednesday August 14, with Joel Dullroy from the German Independents Unite group. Joel will speak on the freelance rights movement around the globe, and what freelancers can learn from other social movements.