Know your rights

Freelancers: What are your rights and how to enforce them?

They are calling it the ‘freelance revolution’ in the States, but whatever you want to call it the statistics speak for themselves. Data released last year by PCG and Kingston University showed that the number of freelancers in the UK had increased by some 12% since 2008, a trend that is reflected in data from other countries including the Netherlands and Germany.
However whilst being your own boss has its undoubted perks and advantages, it also has significant drawbacks in terms of income security and employment rights. Those new to the game are advised then to go into it with their eyes open to the potential pitfalls of freelance work.

Know your rights

Being your own boss, in the true self-employed sense, means that you generally do not qualify for employment law rights. The benefits of working for yourself means that you cannot claim sick pay and you have no protection from getting the sack, even if it would normally constitute unfair dismissal. 
As the recent case of Miriam O’Reilly highlights, contract workers brought in to a business to personally undertake work do gain the right not to be discriminated against by part five of the Equality Act 2010, but this is only if you (and only you) are capable of doing the work.
Freelancers are entitled to a safe working environment according to health and safety laws, and of course freelancers have a right to be paid for work completed.

Getting paid

One of the biggest issues for freelance workers is cash flow, and whilst getting the work is one thing, getting paid properly and on time is something else. Managing your invoices is an important part of being a freelancer, and you must be prepared to do some ‘credit control’ from time to time. 
It is vital to stay on top of this, making regular contact with businesses to nudge things along. Be sure to keep copies of contracts or discussions that formed the basis of your agreement to work with this client. Make sure the client has a correct invoice and provide a copy if one is mislaid.
If all of the above fails, then take proper legal advice from your employment lawyer or company lawyer or consider appointing a debt recovery agency. 

Know when you are really a ‘worker’

Employment law states that in some circumstances ‘freelancers’ who work for a single client for a period of time may in fact be a ‘worker’, and as such may then be entitled to workers rights. This is important as it has enabled freelancers in some circumstances to accrue holiday pay and the right not to be unfairly dismissed in employment law if the court believes the working relationship to be more akin to employment than freelancing. 

This article was contributed by Solicitor Directory