HR · 12 April 2017

Self-employment skyrocketed 23 per cent last year

Self-employment is on the rise
One in seven workers is self-employed

In the last year, the number of self-employed workers has risen by 174,000 – the equivalent of 478 every day.

This is according to new research from business insurance provider Direct Line for Business, which also found that the number of self-employed workers in the UK has risen from 3.8m to nearly 3.7m. This represents a rise of 23 per cent.

One in seven UK workers are now self-employed, which means increased competition for contracted work.

However, 91 per cent of UK businesses hire contractors, and 31 per cent claim to do so frequently, demonstrating a positive attitude towards this section of the workforce.

Around 68 per cent of these business owners would require contractors to have professional indemnity (PI) cover to perform consultancy services for their company. The average level of PI expected is £715,000.

Given the increasing levels of competition in this area of the UK workforce, any self-employed worker who doesn’t have PI insurance is doing themselves a disservice, according to Jane Guaschi, business manager at Direct Line for Business.

“Aside from the employment implications, professional indemnity insurance is an important factor for anyone offering advice or professional services,” said Guaschi.

“It can cover individuals and businesses for a range of risks such as if a client claims there’s a problem with any work which has led to financial loss or caused reputational damage. It’s also vital for anyone who has access to sensitive information or might infringe intellectual property rights.”

One of the main reasons for the increase in self-employment in recent years is because people are demanding more flexibility and autonomy in their working lives and because they are seeking greater job satisfaction, according to Lorence Nye, economic policy advisor at IPSE, the self-employed and freelancer association.

“BEIS research published early last year shows that the top three advantages of being self-employed rather than working as an employee according to self-employed people were “Have more independence”, “Have more time or flexibility” and “Get more job satisfaction.” All three of these factors were chosen by at least three quarters of the respondents,” he said.

“IPSE’s own data supports this. When we surveyed professional self-employed people about their motivations in Q3 of 2015 79% said they choose freelancing so they could control their work, 69% said they had a better work life balance. Just 2% said that they were looking to switch to standard employment in the foreseeable future.”

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Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

Work and Wellbeing