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Over six million in the UK are now self-employed or contractors

The number of UK adults who are self-employed or working as a contractor has risen to more than six million, while a further 6% of professionals in full-time employment are preparing to go it alone in 2018.

A new survey of more than 2,000 British adults by HealthTech start-up WeMa Life discovered that the gig economy is one of the main reasons behind the UK’s evolving work landscape, with a shift towards flexible job roles.

19% of UK adults are now active in the gig economy, of which 71% are most attracted to the flexible working hours. Meanwhile 46% said the gig economy is an attractive option as they are unable to work full-time hours due to other life commitments.

Of the 81% of people currently working in full-time employment, 6% are also planning on quitting their job and joining the gig economy; either as a freelancer, contractor or self-employed professional. This equates to an additional 1.56 million people entering the gig economy.

The figure joining the gig economy would likely be even greater if it wasn’t for the array of uncertainties surrounding self-employment for many full-time employed people. 42% of employed professionals admitted they had no idea how to network and connect with prospective customers, while 39% did not know how to issue invoices or process payments.

Despite the flexibility and freedom that the gig economy offers, 55% of flexible workers don’t feel adequately protected by legislation regarding fair hourly rates and payment schedules.

Last month, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called on the UK’s biggest businesses to put a stop to poor payment practice with small businesses and self-employed professionals to improve the country’s cashflow.

Rajal Patni, co-founder, WeMa Life, said: “The gig economy is reshaping the UK workforce, and this is being fuelled by the rise of digital platforms and apps connecting works with clients and customers.

“The research shows that, while the gig is certainly not for everyone, many people are clearly drawn to this model of working due to the flexibility and control it offers, particularly if they are not in a position to commit to a full-time job.”

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