A recent study by the TUC (Trades Union Congress) shows that 2 million self-employed over 25’s in the UK earn less than minimum wage. The self-employed workforce in the UK has grown by 3% in the last 15 years, however the average wage of a self-employed worker has fallen from £13,200 a year to an average of £12,300 a year; an extremely concerning figure!
These figures make up a larger number of 3.7 million people that are currently working in insecure job contracts. This includes zero-hour contracts, seasonal and casual workers. Despite much publicity over these figures, the government has yet to take significant actions to tackle insecure employment.
The TUC have suggested the following measures are implemented:
- A crackdown on bogus self-employment and steps to ensure workers enjoy the same floor of rights as employees, including redundancy pay and family-friendly rights.
- A ban on zero-hours contracts to ensure workers get guaranteed hours, allowing them to pay bills and plan childcare.
- Equal pay for agency workers, by ending the Swedish Derogation which acts as an Undercutters’ Charter.
- Allowing trade unions to access workplaces, to support workers most in need of representation.
- Increased resources and powers for enforcement, so that dodgy employers have nowhere to hide.
Andy Chamberlain, IPSE’s Deputy Director of Policy, commented:
“IPSE agrees more must be done to protect self-employed people at risk of being vulnerable. Our research with the Community Union showed this is likely to be between nine and 13 per cent of the self-employed.”
“There are 1.5 million part-time self-employed people in the UK, and it is likely these account for many of the people the TUC analysis suggested were earning less than the minimum wage. For most, gig economy work provides a source of additional, flexible income that the majority are very happy to have.”
“While we must protect vulnerable workers, it would be a mistake to conflate ‘bogus self-employment’ with the ‘gig economy’ or wider self-employment – and then try to regulate these ways of working into oblivion. That just hurts the overwhelming majority of people who actively chose to work in this way.”