British freelancers and self-employed professionals would prefer sick pay over all other statutory benefits, according to new research involving the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association (FCSA) and FreeAgent.
A survey of almost 900 entrepreneurs throughout the UK discovered that self-employed workers would value sick pay over all other statutory benefits such as pension auto-enrolment, maternity pay and job seekers allowance.
The research found that more than three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents currently have no method of offering sick pay, maternity or paternity leave, paid holiday or redundancy pay within their business; resulting in millions of self-employed workers missing out on the basic statutory entitlements that employed workers receive.
Looking further ahead into the future, more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents admitted they had no plans in place to fund their retirement, with succession planning by no means at the forefront of running their business. Meanwhile, half of all respondents admitted they would either opt out or be unsure of keeping auto-enrolment if it was offered to them.
These findings arrive ahead of the Taylor Review; an official report into ‘employment practices in the modern economy’, overseen by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts. The review will discuss the rights of self-employed and gig economy workers.
Julia Kermode, chief executive, FCSA, said: "We know from recent high-profile media cases where self-employed drivers and couriers have sought “worker” status and accompanying rights, as in the Uber tribunal, that rights will undoubtedly be a focus of the Taylor Review.
"With this in mind, we conducted our research to establish what benefits self-employed people might actually want, particularly given that it is such a diverse population working across all sectors within the UK.
"For many people who work for themselves, self-employment is a career choice and those who choose it know that this way of working does not come with statutory benefits. However, it is clear from our research that many have not made appropriate provisions to cover benefits that employees receive.
"I hope that our evidence helps to inform policy decisions, particularly if the government intends to increase tax or NICs for self-employed people – as there must be something offered in exchange for increasing the financial burden of the self-employed.
"Not all self-employed workers want the same things so there is no one-size fits all solution, in particular those working through their own limited companies are more likely to already have provision for welfare benefits. The government should find a way of offering additional benefits specifically to those people who want and need them."