Insurance · 3 February 2017

Pressures of self-employment creep into family life

Pressures of self-employment
An absence of workplace rights and dry-spells of work are some of the pressures of self-employment

Despite recent research showing that working for yourself can mean better pay and fewer hours, the pressures of self-employment may be negatively impacting on the home lives of workers.

Research by the Centre for the Modern Family, Scottish Widows’ think tank, has revealed that one in five relatives of a self-employed worker felt that stress levels had increased in their household as a direct result of the career choice.

The same number claimed that financial worries had got worse for self-employed relatives, while one in ten claimed that the pressures of self-employment had caused the whole family to feel more stressed as a result.

Research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in 2016 found that almost half of self-employed people considered the absence of any sick pay as the biggest cause of money worry. A third claimed they had been forced to turn to a partner for financial support.

The FSB report recommended that government should work with the insurance industry to “develop more affordable income protection insurance options for the self-employed”.

Aside from money worries, constant commitment to the job was also uncovered in the latest study. A fifth of those in a self-employed household said that their family member was permanently ready to take a call and start working.

Commenting on the study, Anita Frew, chair of the Centre for the Modern Family, suggested that the traditional trade-off of security for flexibility was more difficult in reality.

“To a growing number of people, self-employment offers a chance to structure a rewarding career around family life. However, our research suggests that the pressures and stresses of being their own boss may, for some, be too much for a family.

Frew confirmed that greater support networks could ease the pressures of self-employment and improve the home lives of the UK’s growing self-employed workforce.

“With more and easier access to practical and financial support, individuals may feel better equipped to make their path in self-employment less stressful for themselves and their families, and bring them more of the benefits which attracted them to self-employment in the first place,” Frew concluded.

One initiative pushed in the report was the exclude self-employed pension contributions from National Insurance payments.

However, a new report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has suggested that self-employed workers actually have a tax advantage over those in full-time work.

As a result of lower NI contributions, the IFS claimed, people working for themselves pay an average £1,240 less per year for the same income. For the whole self-employed workforce, this benefit meant a £5bn difference in NI payments to the permanently employed.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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