HR · 25 February 2016

Micro firms and freelancers give more work away for free

2015 saw a 15 per cent rise in the number of people working more than 48 hours a week
Micro firms and freelancers could be missing out on thousands of pounds a year
Britain’s freelancers and micro firms get paid for just two-thirds of the work they should be paid for each year on average, due to frequently working unpaid overtime.

According to data collated by accountancy software firm FreeAgent, 31 per cent of the hours worked by freelancers and micro businesses in 2015 were not billed, meaning that these businesses worked roughly a third of the time for free.

Of the ten million working hours recorded and tracked by FreeAgent in new research, 80 per cent were considered billable? hours that customers actually charged clients for.

Estimating that the country is home to some 5.2m micro firms and 1.88m freelancers, the research predicted that these businesses were missing out on thousands of pounds due each year.

FreeAgent co-founder Ed Molyneux said that many micro business owners and freelancers feel awkwardcharging clients for work that should be included in bills and invoices. Many don’t feel comfortable charging clients for important admin such as meetings and research, which they actually should be including in their bills. By doing so, these businesses may not be working as profitably or efficiently as they could be, he said.

The proportion of the workforce working more than the maximum 48-hour week in Britain is increasing. According to to recent government figures, 2015 saw a 15 per cent rise in the number of people working more than the recommended amount.

These figures contrast starkly with working practices in other many other European countries. Sweden, for example, has recently introduced a six-hour working day policy, whilst France has maintained the 35-hour working week since 2000.



Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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