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Cyclist Jess Varnish back in court after Judge failed to find her in favour

After losing her recent court case, former Olympic cyclist Jess Varnish has chosen to take her case to the higher courts. She argued that her case was closer to that of employer and employee, rather than being self-employed through British cycling.

Her lawyer argued that the court did not adequately explain why the services and benefits she received from British Cycling were not remunerations, and how they “failed to explain how the work performed by a professional football player is different from the work performed by Jess for British Cycling”.

The case has the potential to alter relationships between UK sports and the athletes they represent, as well as the way the gig economy affects individuals as well as large groups of people.

Brexit needs to be cleared up for the sake of freelancers

While last weeks commitment to not leave the EU without a deal was welcome news to the self-employed, there are still many questions that need clearing up.

Andy Chamberlin, IPSE Director of Policy, says: “The reality is that the self-employed and all businesses need more than platitudes: they need real certainty and a definite plan. Last night’s vote shows Parliament does not want to leave without a deal, but that’s still a definite risk if it cannot agree on a credible plan.”

Victoria Bateman, a fellow in economics at Cambridge, believes that the UK employment landscape will be unable to handle a no deal Brexit outcome, citing the gig economy and disguised employment as a specific reason for reduced income after Brexit.

More and more contractors shun pensions

The pensions system not being ‘freelance-friendly’ enough has been blamed for a 12% rise in the number of contractors and other one-person traders who are failing to save for retirement.

Nixon Williams, an accountancy firm, calculated that 2.9million freelance professionals are not saving for when they stop work, given the UK’s total freelance workforce of 4.5million.

Since 2017, the self-employed population that does not invest in their pensions has risen 12%, and with changes to IR35 incoming it may become harder for the self-employed to save into pension schemes.

Is freelancing a feminist issue? IPSE thinks so

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released yesterday shows the number of women in self-employment rose by 31,000 in the last quarter of 2018.

Corinne Stuart, IPSE’s Head of Commercial Development, commented: “Freelancing is vital for many mothers and carers too, because it gives them the ability to both earn an income and spend time with their children and family. For some, it can also be a means of moving back into the workforce.

“As more and more women move into self-employment, the government must recognise how important this way of working is. It should make a particular effort to ensure self-employed mothers have all the assistance and support they need, for example, by making them eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay – like employees.

“In these uncertain times, the government must do all it can to protect this sector and make sure women have access to the freedom and flexibility of self-employment. Freelancing is, after all, a feminist issue.”

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