HR · 27 January 2017

Seven in ten freelancers asked to work for free in 2016

Work for free
Freelance photographers were the most likely to be asked to work for free
In 2016, 70 per cent of the UK’s community of busy freelancers were asked to work for free, according to new research that highlights the growing trend of larger companies exploiting the self-employed.

The study, undertaken by online project management platform, found that nine per cent of those who were asked to work without pay offered their service for free.

Freelance photographers received the most requests, with 87 per cent asked to work for free. Some 16 per cent throughout the UK agreed.

The most common reason for obliging, the survey found, was to gain work experience. Freelancers in the under-25 age bracket were twice as likely to accept work without payment.

The figures were released by as part of wider research into workplace exploitation. A common tactic employed by larger brands on social media to get freelancers working for nothing, the company claimed, was the promise of industry exposure.

Regionally, freelancers working in Belfast were most frequently asked to work for free. While three-quarters were asked, just nine per cent agreed.

The research indicated that cities with strong creative and tech sectors, like Manchester and London, were least likely to see freelancer workers giving away services for nothing.

Commenting on the research, Charlotte Whelan, a project manager at, advised freelancers to become more shrewd when it came to providing a service.

there’s a difference between helping out a mate or offering your time for free to a good cause or charity and being exploited by a businesses that could and should be offering to pay for your talent, she said in a statement.



Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.