An update on how Coronavirus will affect freelancers, including everything we are doing to support you during this turbulent time.
As you probably know, Freelance Corner is powered by IPSE, the trade body for the self-employed. In the last week, we have received a number of questions from the media and freelancers about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and how it might affect the self-employed.There are now over five million self-employed people in the UK, who account for over 15% of the workforce, so we think it's vital that the government does not treat this group as an afterthought in its preparations and public communications.
Advice for freelancers and clients
We aren't in a position to make detailed recommendations to either freelancers or clients about how to run their businesses, or the steps they should take to either mitigate any risk of infection or agree contingency plans for work. However, we have listed several authoritative sources below that provide guidance on the virus, and we wanted to share this with you and hope that you follow the official advice closely.
Here at Freelance Corner, we recommend that freelancers should start discussing preparations with their clients now, particularly getting ready to work remotely if they can. Clients that rely on the flexibility of freelancers should recognise that this can often mean the self-employed are in a more precarious position if they fall ill or need to self-isolate, even as a precaution. We would hope that your clients engage constructively with you, to put appropriate arrangements in place to minimise health risks and disruption.
You may also wish to check what health or income protection insurance you have in place. There are a number of options available if you are not currently covered, however we would caution that these policies often have a deferral period of three to four weeks and may not provide appropriate cover if you are forced to self-isolate, so it is vital you are aware of the T&Cs before making any decisions.
Ultimately, you shouldn't feel that you must put yourself more at risk just because you are self-employed – your health comes first.
Inevitably, there will be some cases where remote working isn’t feasible and there is a risk to your income. That is why we (and our sister company, IPSE) have written to the government, calling on them to create a mitigation fund to support self-employed people who lose income because of the coronavirus outbreak – and to publish specific guidance for freelancers.
We will continue to monitor this situation closely and post any updates for you and the wider self-employed community on this page. Feel free to share this post and the sources with your freelance network.
Acas – Coronavirus advice for employers and employees
CIPD – Coronavirus advice for UK employers
UK Government - Coronavirus: latest information and advice
UK Government - COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses
UK Government - Foreign travel advice
National Health Service - Coronavirus (COVID-19)