The Shift: Issue #28

NUJ #FairDeal4Freelances - a 10-point plan; Calls for a Freelance Commissioner; Free creative training courses.

The NUJ has published a freelance charter as part of its #FairDeal4Freelances campaign.
It calls for:
1/ Trade union collective bargaining to improve T&Cs for freelancers side by side with staff
2/ Fair written contracts for asserting your rights
3/ Respect for their creators' rights and unwaivable moral rights
4/ Equal rights with employees: sick pay, maternity, paternity and parental leave, unemployment benefit, full access to benefits
5/ Choice over how you freelance and are taxed, with an end to advance tax payments
6/ Work free from pressure to operate on a PAYE basis or through umbrella companies
7/ Equal health & safety protections including training & insurances
8/ Fair fees and terms and prompt payments
9/ Dignity and respect at work, free from bullying, harassment or discrimination
10/ Equal professional rights, including the right to protect sources, seek information and uphold ethical standards
The rights and protections of freelancers and the self-employed have been shown to be woefully lacking, so the NUJ is determined to fight to change that. That's why we're launching our new Fair Deal For Freelances campaign, with a 10-point Freelance Charter, to ensure their working conditions and terms of engagement are fit for purpose. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary.
The NUJ has been working hard to bring it to the attention of politicians this week. Next week they will be circulating more to organisations that might share mutual interests and campaigning work. The European Federation of Journalists are looking at it and we’re asking NUJ branches to raise with companies signing up or at least considering some of the individual’s clauses and what they can do.
The House of Lords Communications and Digital Select Committee has also recommended reform of freelance rights:
We welcome the government's proposals to strengthen the powers of the small business commissioner and encourage the government and the commissioner to work with freelance journalists to ensure that these new powers address the difficulties they face relating to unfair payment practices, including late payment, payment on publication, and 'kill fees.'
BEIS is holding a consultation on the merits of increasing the scope and powers of the Small Business Commissioner to help small businesses deal with late payments and other issues. YES! Share your views - open till 24 Dec.
I had to set up a limited company last year for a six-month contract which I'm now closing because of IR35 changes in April ‘21. I had a chat with a recruiter re a two-month contract that was ‘inside IR35’ and was told NO PSC/limited companies. I’d have to operate via their umbrella - so that seems to be the way things are going with contract work.
All this chopping and changing is stressful (and expensive) and makes no sense for short-term contracts.

You might be eligible for holiday pay

Many casuals and freelancers are entitled to holiday pay in law, but an NUJ survey found 9/10 did not receive it. Why not? Are we not asking for it? If you’re on a retainer with a client it’s worth asking - more info here.

What else is happening?

The FSB, Creative Industries Federation, IPSE and Prospect have joined forces to ask Rishi Sunak to introduce a Freelance Commissioner and a Future Workforce Commission. The goal is to make freelancing a stronger and more resilient sector, ensure no one falls through the gaps - an estimated 3 million people have this year, see #ExcludedUK #ForgottenFreelancers, #ForgottenPAYE.
Last year, Anna Codrea-Rado launched the #FairPayForFreelancers campaign, which called on the media industry to pay its freelancers fairer, better and faster.
Anna and Alex Holder have set up a public Google doc for freelancers from creative industries to anonymously enter their day rate, job role, company, ethnicity and gender identity, to try and close the race and gender pay gap. So far it has over 600 entries - really useful to see the going rates - we need transparency.
🙌 Lots of energy going into these campaigns - please sign, share and support them.
Freelancers have made many industries highly innovative, fast-growing and world-leading, but because of gaps in support, stress, precarity and late payments, many people will stop working this way.
Post-pandemic, companies will hire less full-time employees to work in offices and work with more freelancers and contractors on projects from home - so now is the time to reform freelance rights.

FEU Union Learning for freelancers

It’s one of few places media and creative freelancers can access free workshops, webinars and online resources to upskill and network with people from other industries. The government has decided to scrap union learning in England - but the Welsh and Scottish governments are continuing to finance it. Courses are funded until March ‘21 so far.
Join the campaign and sign the petition asking Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, to reverse this decision.
Let me know if you want to get involved and I'll put you in touch with the NUJ Freelance Office.
Happy St Nicholas’s Day!

Thanks for reading!

👋 Hi, I'm Nicci - a journalist and writer based in East Sussex, UK. I write The Shift, a newsletter on work culture, creativity + tech trends.⚡️ If you like this and want to read more, please consider becoming a paid subscriber here. Or if you prefer, you can treat me to a coffee here. Find me online @niccitalbot.