Spokespeople for Arts Council England (ACE) and Creative Scotland stated their belief in the importance of fair pay for those working on the projects they fund but were unable to provide a reason why they will not stipulate minimum rates.
While the Arts Council of Wales (ACW) says it will enforce minimum pay rates for artists, other UK arts councils have no plans to follow suit.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI), however, suggested that ensuring fair pay is the responsibility of the organisations it funds and industry bodies.
It added that organisations employing freelancers should agree on the hours needed to complete the activity. Fees for anyone over 25 should be at least the National Living Wage of £8.21 per hour, said ACE, while under 25s should receive at least the National Minimum Wage.
Political parties should extend the rights of the self-employed ahead of the country’s general election on 12 December, including scrapping IR35 off-payroll working rules and addressing late payments.
There are now around five million freelancers in Britain, a sector it claims could be a significant vote-winner. It is worth noting that a large number will include lower paid “gig economy” workers, unlikely to be affected by the same taxation issues as IT contractors.
IPSE is calling on whoever wins the UK general election on 12 December to:
- Build a modern tax system: a full review of small business tax (including scrapping IR35 and ending the confusion over the Loan Charge) to unleash the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit.
- End the culture of late payment: give the Small Business Commissioner more powers to clamp down on late payment – including “naming and shaming” and even fining the worst offenders.
- Identify solutions for saving in later life: work with industry to create products that are tailored to help the self-employed put money away for retirement.
- Update freelancers’ parental rights: Extend Shared Parental Leave (SPL) to the self-employed and give them the same paternity/maternity pay rights as employees.
- Incentivise wor khubs to boost the high street: help revive Britain’s struggling high streets by providing financial benefits for the creation of work hubs in empty premises.
Simon McVicker, IPSE director of policy and external affairs, said all parties should be listening to the needs of the self-employed and outlining policies that will make a difference to them.
The Federation of Small Businesses has called on politicians to put the self-employed “front and centre when drawing-up business policies for their election manifestos”, while warning that optimism levels in the three months to September were in negative territory for a fifth consecutive quarter.
Six in ten sole traders do not expect their trading performance to improve over the coming three months, while more than one in ten fear that it will deteriorate markedly. Only one in three said that their revenues were up during the period, while four in ten said they were down.
The Federation, one of Britain’s biggest business groups, said that the self-employed were finding it particularly hard to raise finance and those that could do so were facing borrowing rates of 6 per cent or higher.
It also called for a delay to a planned crackdown on tax avoidance linked to the use of self-employed private sector workers until confidence has improved. From April, the government wants to tackle contractors who work off-payroll in the private sector to address tax avoidance. The so-called IR35 rules, which already apply to the public sector, are designed to end “disguised employment” — the term for people who present themselves as off-payroll freelancers and who tax authorities believe should be treated as employees. The use of personal service companies allows contractors and companies to reduce their tax and national insurance bills. Extending IR35 is expected to raise £3.1 billion in extra revenues for the exchequer between 2020 and 2024.
Since the rule change shifts responsibility for determining worker status from contractor to employer, it makes hiring sole traders less appealing. Businesses will still be able to use off-payroll freelancers, but must satisfy themselves that their use does not amount to disguised employment.
Several big City employers, including Barclays, have said that they will end their use of contractors, prompting alarm from representatives of the self-employed.
Highstreet bank TSB is “looking at a number of initiatives” to help self-employed people get a mortgage.
A spokesperson for TSB said: “The working environment is changing significantly as people are choosing to be self-employed in the gig economy, so we feel that there are better ways to meet their needs.
“But it’s not all about the self-employed. There are now more contractors than ever before, as well as a growing number of people who have a variable income.
“Many of these people will have a good track record, but we know sometimes their income is adjustable. We know that lenders need to respond to these changing work patterns so that they continue to help people get on the housing ladder.
“We are looking at a number of possible initiatives and hope to make an announcement in due course.”
Uber emphasises its unique “technology-first approach”, linking gig workers with jobs, will lead to a more efficient marketplace. The app allows people to find shifts without having to re-enter their credentials every time they look for a new job. Uber expects this to provide a faster and easier way for businesses to connect with workers while also offering more information on available work opportunities, thus improving the experience for both workers and businesses.
Many people around the world use staffing agencies to find work. Yet the status quo is not ideal – for workers or for businesses. Workers face rigid schedules and imperfect information about where they can find shift work and how much they can expect to earn. Businesses struggle to find suitable staff to address unexpected labour shortages.
Uber’s new app may well help businesses reduce their scheduling problems and address seasonal work shortages. But whether it will improve the experience of workers is less clear.
Job platforms like Uber Works use algorithms to match businesses with workers. The algorithm instantly identifies and offers work to people once they have agreed to the terms and conditions mentioned in the app, created their profile and uploaded relevant documentation such as proof of identity.
This digital management falls within the broader framework of the gig economy, which has disrupted our traditional notions of work. Under this system, workers are hired to complete tasks or hyper-flexible “gigs” within a short period of time. But there is little commitment between workers and their employers.
Gig workers are frequently classified as “independent contractors” which means that businesses that hire them for gigs do not bear any costs related to employment benefits or insurance. Debates on the gig economy range from the positive, with its emphasis on the autonomy and flexibility it gives workers, to the negative, with critics seeing it as a means of cutting costs and subverting employment laws.
The fragmented nature of getting work through apps, with their reliance on algorithms to control, monitor and manage workers, also erodes the principle of reciprocity found in traditional employment relationships. When you are getting work through a faceless app, you are subject to stringent control mechanisms where you have little say in how work is assigned, completed or appraised. This is very different from the reciprocal relationships seen in traditional employment which offer stable career paths and job security to workers in return for their effort and commitment.
The lack of pensions amongst the self-employed is becoming an increasing problem, and as such more flexible savings options are needed to encourage those with an unstable income to save for retirement.
The Association for Consulting Actuaries’ (ACA) latest Pension Trends Survey found that over half (52 per cent) of employers surveyed don’t engage their self-employed workers with pensions, but 28 percent said they’d consider providing employer contributions to a more flexible savings vehicle that self-employed workers could use both for retirement and other purposes.
Using open-source data from the Guardian between 2000 and 2018, the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre assessed how frequently keywords such as “he” and “she” appeared in The Guardian, relating to the creative fields: fashion, stage, media, books, and games. The study also looked at how genders were represented, by evaluating the words that immediately followed those pronouns. Read on to find out their findings.