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Happy New Year UnderPinners!

We hope you enjoyed celebrating and relaxing over the holidays. Here’s a rundown of what’s been happening in the news while the festivities were in full swing…

 

An expanding gig economy means more businesses are hiring freelancers in the U.S.

According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, 16.5 million people make up the gig economy and a report form Upwork found that 59% of U.S. companies use freelancers and remote workers.

“Solopreneurs” are on the rise, with people wanting to work independently as a one-person-run business as opposed to starting up a business and employing staff. Communication between gig workers and their contracted clients will improve, favouring faster action with digital and face-to-face meetings over slow response email streams. 

A surge of AI in businesses means good news for tech-savvy freelancers

Forbes puts forward that more career tech professionals will be switching to contract workers to make room for freelancers this year. If you specialize in AI (Artificial Intelligence) or Machine learning skills, you will be highly sought after, as businesses seek better IT proficiency.

Entrepreneur writes that businesses will also be on the lookout for Freelance Gen Zers, with their tech-savvy skill set, to prepare for the increase in everyday use of AI to power social media ads, send emails and improve customer service outreach systems. 

Diversity will be the key aim for tech businesses hiring in 2019. With the human rights campaigns of #MeToo and Time’s Up that were so prevalent last year, there will now be an enormous focus on equal employment opportunities.

But freelancing still isn’t all smooth sailing

51/53 of Matthew Taylor’s recommendations for the gig economy were accepted by ministers in the UK parliament. An increase in fines for employers who mistreat staff and stopping employers paying agency workers less than full-time staff is a step in the right direction. Yet, the people who will deal with investigating abusive employers and reprimanding them when they fail to pay after tribunals isn’t clear. Yes, the minimum wage is rising to £8.21 next April, but that doesn’t change the fact that many workers, majority women, are not treated as they should be.

Freelance companies like Uber, Etsy, Air BNB, Freelancer.com and Etsy provide a way out of the 9-5. But the freelance life has a lot of disadvantages that you should be aware of: no workers compensation, no penalty rates, no paid sick leave, no holiday pay and no parental leave. With freedom comes a price. Companies like Uber save money by having “contractors” instead of “employees,” and dismiss employment protections and benefits that are offered to permanent employment contract holders.

Uber was again refused its company license renewal in September 2017, due to not being a “fit and proper” operator where judges rejected Uber’s claim that drivers were “independent contractors” not “workers” to whom it owed the minimum wage and holiday pay.

Could your health be at risk in a freelance career?

Not working in a 9-5 job is a dream for many. But for some, the lack of structure can really take its toll. Evidence from a new Oxford study shows that through erratic schedules and the absence of employee protection, freelancers can suffer from sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Ensure a successful transition into freelancing by following the right steps.

First, decide whether you will be a sole trader or form a limited company. Being limited keeps your business finances away from your personal ones – so if your business runs into difficulties, you won’t be personally liable.

Register as self-employed with HMRC and register for self-assessment: sole traders need to pay income and national insurance tax, limited companies need to pay corporation taxes. Also, look into getting insurance if your freelance job involves you giving professional advice, you’re likely to get injured at work, or clients visit your homes.

Are you thinking of running a completely remote company? Here are some tips :

Keep in touch on the daily. Without the accessibility of walking over to someone’s desk to discuss work, you’ll need to take advantage of apps like Skype, Slack and Whatsapp to achieve a personal relationship with colleagues scattered in different locations. This will also allow you to check-in on them to see when they start and finish work for the day.

Weekly team meetings to keep on top of deadlines and goals is key. Having a team meeting allows you to maintain your company network, allowing your colleagues to be aware of each aspect of the business and who is in charge of what.

Do 1-1 Evaluation meetings. Setting time aside every three months to provide feedback shows your invested care in your employees’ career development and job satisfaction.

 

We hope you’ve had a happy start to your 2019!

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