IPSE calls for statutory definition of self-employment


While giving evidence to Matthew Taylor’s review of modern employment practices on Thursday, IPSE called for a statutory definition of self-employment to end confusion about who is and isn’t self-employed.

There are currently definitions in law for what it means to be an employee and what it means to be classified as a worker, but none for genuine self-employment.

The definition should be based around four key criteria:

Having autonomy in their work. For freelancers this means the ability to send substitutes. There is also no requirement to do work outside what is agreed
Having control over working arrangements. Self-employed people are able to decide how to complete their tasks and the hours and location they choose to work in
Taking on business risk. The self-employed take responsibility for their finance and tax responsibilities and can be paid on a per-task basis
Level of independence from clients. This would include things such as having to wear a uniform or using your own tools and equipment to complete your work.

IPSE believes the Taylor review should also consider how to encourage pension uptake and savings for the self-employed as well as developing fairer maternity, paternity and childcare support. Government also has a role in incentivising training and skills development so people can progress in their careers, regardless of how they work.

Simon McVicker, IPSE Director of Policy, said: “To be an employee is defined in statute, as is being a worker. But, somehow, to be self-employed is the default for everything else. This is a rather negative position and it creates confusion as it lacks clarity.

“We want a positive definition so the genuinely self-employed have peace of mind and unscrupulous companies cannot exploit the confusion and push people into false self-employment.”

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