IPSE calls for statutory definition of self-employment

27th March 2017

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) wants the UK government to provide a statutory definition of self-employment in 2017 to end confusion about who is and isn’t technically self-employed.

Currently, there are definitions in law that outline what it means to be regarded as an employee and what it means to be a worker, yet not for genuine self-employment.

The IPSE made the claims while giving evidence to Matthew Taylor's review of modern-day employment practices that's due for publication in the next few months.

The body representing UK freelance professionals believes a self-employment definition should be made around four important criteria:

  • Work autonomy – freelancers having the ability to send substitutes and work with no requirement to do work outside of what is agreed with a client.
  • Complete control over working arrangements – self-employed individuals can decide their own working hours and where they choose to carry out their work.
  • Taking on business risk – self-employed professionals take full responsibility over their finance and tax responsibilities.
  • Working independently from clients – self-employed individuals will use their own tools, uniform and equipment to complete work for clients.

The IPSE believes the upcoming Taylor Review should also assess how to encourage the self-employed to set up their own private pension and savings accounts, as well as the development of fairer maternity, paternity and childcare support.

Simon McVicker, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: "To be an employee is defined in statute, as is being a worker, but somehow to be self-employed is the default of everything else.

"This is a rather negative position and it creates confusion as it lacks clarity.

"We want a positive definition so the genuinely self-employed have peace of mind and unscrupulous companies cannot exploit the confusion and push people into false self-employment."

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