FSB seeks statutory definition of self-employment

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Mark Pawlak for Adfero

The government has been urged to enshrine in law a clear definition of self-employment.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), more than one in seven workers in the UK are currently self-employed.

However, the organisation believes this segment of the workforce has faced unequal treatment for too long, particularly with regards to access to social security.

As a result, it believes the government should take steps to ensure the law offers better safeguards to self-employed people.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, commented: "It’s high time for a statutory definition of self-employment to ensure their rights are protected and they can continue to make a vital contribution to our economy.”

Mr Cherry was speaking after the latest official labour market data indicated that the employment rate remained stable in the three months to December 2016.

Figures showed that 31.84 million were in work by the end of the quarter, which is broadly consistent with the level seen in the previous three months.

Statistics also revealed that the number of self-employed people was 125,000 up on the same period of the previous year.

This meant self-employed people accounted for more than 15 per cent of those in work.

“It’s good to see healthy employment figures," Mr Cherry observed.

"However, the stability of the UK employment market is under threat."

This, Mr Cherry said, is because most of the private sector workforce is employed by small businesses.

"From April, government policy changes will drive up employment costs for the average FSB employer by a staggering £2,600," he noted.

"This is due to pension auto-enrolment, a rise in the National Living Wage and the resulting increase in National Insurance contributions."

Mr Cherry has therefore urged chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to use his upcoming Spring Budget to intervene and "protect our jobs market from the impact of these surging costs".

"The Employment Allowance has been a lifeline for many small firms and the government should now build on its success," he said.