So, we should probably talk about last night.
Phones have been buzzing, papers have been publishing, and everyone seems to be alternating between comical apathy and terror.
It is madness to ignore the effects Brexit will have on freelancers. The British pound has already begun to recover after May’s deal was voted down, a sure sign in the lack of confidence that her deal would have brought. IPSE has found that the PM’s deal is as bad as a “no deal” Brexit for freelancers.
Compared to 44% a year ago, 60% of freelancers now believe that her deal would actually be bad for their business. Almost a third of all freelancer contracts last year were based in the EU, a sure sign that the importance of flexible work is interlinked with a Brexit plan that will allow freelancers to maintain their relationship with the EU.
The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) noted that a government white paper on a future-skills-based immigration system gives little confidence to creative freelancers who work in the EU. With 35% of the workers in the creative industry being freelancers, this change in immigration could be a massive blow to the economy.
An investigation into illegal immigrants working for Deliveroo and Uber Eats took place last week after The Sunday Times uncovered that food delivery jobs were being traded on the black market.
It was discovered that workers with right-to-work papers have been making money off of those without vetting checks and with false documents, by lending out their accounts for amounts of up to £100. This is happening all over London, the police have reported.
Uber Eats is now working together with the home office to rectify these breaches, informing their riders that they have 24 hours to come forward with information of whom they are subletting their accounts to. Likewise, Deliveroo issued warning emails last week threatening that riders could end up with a five-year prison sentence, as well as a £20,000 fine, if they hire substitute workers without having undergone background checks.
The court battles for Uber seem to be never-ending. Although the firm claims that their drivers are self-employed, in that they have the freedom to choose when and where they work and which passengers to pick up, a former driver has decided to sue the company. After their account was deactivated by Uber in 2016, this individual has decided to sue the company for “depriving him of the possibility to get new reservations” and wishes that they reclassify his “commercial accord” to an employment contract.
He won, with the Paris appeals court ruling in the ex-drivers favour, stating that as a result of the “registration partnership”, the driver was not able to choose his riders or his rates, and therefore Uber remained in control of his terms of work. Because these freedoms were not granted, the court ruled that the driver was therefore not self-employed.
This is another knock against the business infrastructure of Uber, and its claim of supposedly being a service provider for freelancers: “It throws into question Uber’s ecosystem and business model, based on this idea of independent contractors,” says Franck Heas, a professor of law at Nantes University, France.
Personnel Today has also named the Aslam v Uber BV case as one of the most important law decisions of the year, with mounting pressure to decide whether Uber drivers are workers, as the Court of Appeals labels them, or whether they are self-employed, as stated by the CAC.
Annie Ridout writes on the uncertainty of having to leave her previous position at a tech start-up after giving birth, and the lack of rights her previous employer was willing to give her due to the nature of her rolling contract. This is a fairly common occurrence (more than 54,000 women a year lose their positions while pregnant or nursing) and Ridout addresses how to face the oncoming challenges of being a freelancing mother.
As a result of a systems error at HMRC, the self-employed are being sent inaccurate payment reminders, resulting in individuals being charged interest for late tax payments. Stephanie Tremain, a senior manager from Blick Rothenberg, sheds some light on the issue: “Taxpayers will understandably rely on the information sent to them by HMRC, but for peace of mind it’s important that they double check the amount due in January 2019 with their accountant, or for those without an accountant, they need to check their completed 2017-18 tax return.”
It’s been a strange week, and a scary one as well. Protect yourself and remember what you’re good at. If Theresa May can make it through this week, you can do anything.