HR · 15 July 2016

ONS research debunks the myth that self-employed workers are labour market victims

self-employed workers are positive
The vast majority of self-employed workers are positive about the arrangement

New research published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the majority of self-employed workers are positive about their situation, despite previous warnings that those freelancing have been forced into the position.

Some 4.7m people in the UK were self-employed at the beginning of 2016, compared to 3.2m in 2000. The study found that the average self-employed worker is now older and more likely to work in business or finance, while the number of part-time freelancers has risen particularly rapidly – increasing by almost 90 per cent between 2001 and 2015.

Almost seven-in-ten self-employed part-timers do not want a full time job, according to the research –while the vast majority cited positive reasons such as job satisfaction or increased income as the reason for their choice to go it alone.

The analysis also showed that those who move from employment to self-employment tend to have higher salaries than people who move from one employee position to another, which the report’s authors argue is “consistent with workers making a positive choice, rather than being forced to be self-employed”.

It revealed that while many of those newly self-employed are retirees – the largest increase in propensity to be self-employed has been amongst the over-70s – the trend has affected workers of all ages, including those joining the labour market for the first time. The highest concentrations of self-employment were amongst those around the age of 20 and in their mid-40s, with younger women particularly satisfied with their situation.

“The research also shows that the self-employed are generally happy with their situation,” said Lorence Nye, an economic policy adviser for the The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

“Being your own boss gives you the flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance, take on the work you want, and ultimately improve your general wellbeing. The incoming government should seize this opportunity and start paying attention to this ever-growing segment of the labour market. We need strong new policies, particularly those recommended in the self-employment review, to boost the vital competitive edge that is provided by our flexible labour market,” he added.

Commissioned by the government and carried out by Cambridge Satchel Company founder Julie Deane, the self-employment review was published in February 2016 and called for policy measures to better educate young people about self-employment and make getting a mortgage easier for contractors.

If you’re a happy freelancer looking to make your work-life balance even better than it is already, why not check out one of these exotic co-working spaces?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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