On Monday, the Queen set out the plan for her next Government. She set out some broadly positive things for freelance workers but what will they actually mean for people who are working flexibly in the gig economy right now?
One of the main aspects of the speech which will have been well received from freelancers and flexible workers across the nation, is the proposal of a National Infrastructure Strategy. This initiative aims to improve nation’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure, and a key cornerstone of the government’s commitment is to help roll out gigabit-capable broadband across the UK and ensure flats and homes are broadband.
Many flexible workers work from home, and the rise in the number of freelancers relying on their ability to work remotely and always be connected continues to grow, not to mention that the demand for freelancers working in tech is ever increasing. As a result, more and more workers across the UK will need high speed internet connections in order to carry out and deliver their work to a high standard; this commitment to improve the digital landscape of Britain will be a welcome one amongst freelancers.
The Pensions Bill announced on Monday to help save for later life will also support many self-employed and flexible workers. According to the announcement, the creation of a pensions dashboard will enable freelancers to bring their savings together in one place, simplifying savings for many self-employed workers. The government’s commitment to Collective Defined Contribution (CDC) pensions will also be welcomed by many gig economy workers and will help them save for life after work.
However, the government will need to help freelancers, contractors and businesses to clarify their employment status, as many private sector clients have been taking a hard-line approach to avoid breaking the new IR35 rules which are due to come into place on 1st April 2020. This will need to happen sooner rather than later as the date edges closer and closer; the impending legislation has rendered the UK’s recruiters and agencies extremely uneasy, because they could be faced with enormous tax bills for incorrect IR35 decisions made by their end clients. It is essential that agencies and recruiters across the UK gain a developed understanding IR35 to ensure they are protected, and the government should play a part in making this process accessible and simple.
Ultimately, the real question is whether any of this will actually go through Parliament at all. With a lack of majority and the Brexit elephant in the room, many issues could fall by the wayside, so employees, flexible workers and employers need to continue to raise these issues to ensure that action is taken in the near term. The next two weeks will make this situation a lot clearer for the millions of freelancers currently in the UK today.
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