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Most self-employed say they don't want rights

As the Government focuses on how to protect the growing number of workers in the "gig economy", a new survey of self-employed workers has found that eight in ten don't want employment rights.

A poll of 250 freelancers by Contractor Calculator found that 80% of self-employed workers say they are not vulnerable and do not want legal rights because they don't want to be burdened by red tape. 

The findings show that:

  • 88% do not want maternity or paternity rights;
  • 82% do not want sickness pay (25% are insured and 80% say they use savings instead);
  • 85% do not want holiday pay;
  • 75% do not want to be forced into auto-enrolment into a pension;
  • 80% do not want extra rights to help with grievances or disciplinary matters;
  • 94% do not want any restrictions on hours worked and are happy to manage their own affairs.

With rising numbers of firms employing staff on a self-employed basis, the Government has asked HMRC to investigate whether some companies are forcing their staff to work on a self-employed basis in order to get out of paying the minimum wage and employment benefits. A new HMRC unit, the employment status and intermediaries team, will investigate companies that use significant numbers of self-employed workers.

Dave Chaplin, CEO and founder of Contractor Calculator, said: 

"Some firms are using the on-demand gig economy to effectively suppress workers' rights and pay them less than the minimum wage, and these firms should be challenged about how they treat their workers and should be forced to treat them fairly and appropriately. But this simply isn't the case for all self-employed workers. 78% of the freelance workforce have chosen to work this way, they want to be responsible for themselves and their businesses and they do not want rights. They should be allowed to get on with it."

More red tape is the last thing that most freelancers need, he added. 

"It is important that we protect low paid workers, but I would appeal to the Government not to ruin the freelance sector in the process. More red tape for freelancers will be sure to damage the economy, and as we prepare to leave the EU these workers will be vital to the process."

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