Advice for Self-employed and freelancers during the coronavirus crisis

workplace stress

With many businesses grinding to a halt, it is the self-employed and freelancers who may be among the worst hit financially.

Their access to protections such as sick pay and redundancy pay are virtually non-existent, although the government is making it easier for the self-employed to access benefits during the crisis. Better-off self-employed workers are also more likely to have purchased income protection insurance contracts which may now pay out.

What rights do I lose because I’m self-employed?

It’s a long list. If you are self-employed you do not have a right to statutory sick pay, statutory redundancy pay or the national minimum or living wage. To state the obvious, a self-employed person does not have a contract of employment with an employer and has to decide for themselves things like when to take holidays, how much to charge clients, when to take breaks and so on.

So I have almost no rights as a self-employed person?

Actually you do have a lot of other statutory protections. You may also have rights that are written into specific contracts you negotiated with your clients – such as termination payments if the contract ends early.

The main statutory protections are around discrimination. A self-employed person has the same rights in law as any other worker in this area. Under UK law, they can not be discriminated against on grounds of age, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion and so on.

If I can’t get sick pay, what benefits can I apply for as a self-employed person?

In general, when it comes to working out which benefits you are eligible for and how much you might get, the same rules usually apply whether you work for an employer or are self-employed, according to benefits advisory group Turn2Us. Your earnings from self-employment will count as income when working out what benefits might be available to you. Turn2Us also offer a useful benefits calculator.