Self-employment is now a mainstream career option and works well for many people, but it can be complicated, particularly when you’re first starting.
Citizens Advice wants simpler and more responsive policies that give self-employed people the security to plan and balance their lives, while developing their business.
But we also want to reduce “bogus” self-employment, where people whose work has all the hallmarks of employment have been classified as self-employed to reduce their employers’ costs and responsibilities.
UK self-employment has risen to nearly 15% of the workforce, with more women in particular starting their own businesses. Yet self-employed life can be insecure: since the 2008 recession the average earnings of self-employed people have fallen much faster than those of employees.
Local Citizens Advice now see more and more self-employed clients - up 50% since 2011. Over 56% of our clients who ask for advice on self-employment issues earn below the national minimum wage for a 35 hour week. These clients most commonly also have debt, employment and benefit issues.
The higher numbers of people working for themselves as a mainstream career choice has drawn attention to the lack of flexibility in today’s systems. These were set up when most people were long-term employees with fixed salaries, and they often leave self-employed people with no support, or employees more at risk of “bogus” self-employment.
Policy makers are increasingly aware that this is not sustainable, and this autumn sees the launch of a range of reviews and consultations to develop solutions. Our campaign is timed to ensure that Citizens Advice data and research informs the outcomes.
The campaign has five key objectives:
Employment status quiz: the quiz raises awareness of the different employment rights of employees and the self-employed.