Ed Miliband announced the Labour government’s plan to provide equal rights for people who are self-employed and to help them with mortgages and pensions if Labour gets into power in 2015.

Ed Miliband says the almost 5 million people who are self-employed currently in the UK are discriminated against and went onto say:

“We need to talk about them more.  Five million people, often the most entrepreneurial… they don’t want special privileges they just want a fair shot.”

Two out of three self-employed professionals do not have a pension and one in five are unable to obtain a self-employed mortgage.  Miliband promised that a future Labour Government would give self-employed people the same rights as employees.  Currently self-employed individuals have very limited employment rights which you can read about here.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) welcomed Mr Miliband’s pledge saying:

“It is encouraging that the Labour leader has recognised the importance of the self-employed and has made this growing sector a key part of his speech……. it is important the main political parties in the UK sit up and take notice of independent professionals, today we believe Ed Miliband did.”

However, the Director of Policy and External Affairs for IPSE went onto say that while he commended Labour for recognising the importance of such issues as pensions and maternity pay, he added that the party should be careful not to make the self-employed unappealing to their clients.

Other business bodies were critical of his speech, saying he was not showing support for SMEs that actually create jobs.

Some legal commentators have said that Section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 contains a power to extend the major employment protection legislation to other categories of individual; so extending legislative protection to workers (as well as employees) would only require secondary legislation.  However, Section 23 is discussed in a Parliamentary Briefing paper which says “the Government envisages using this new power to ensure that all workers, other than the genuinely self-employed, enjoy the minimum standards of protection that the legislation is intended to provide, and that none are excluded simply because of technicalities relating to the type of contract or other arrangement under which they are engaged”‘

No further details have yet been revealed by the Labour Party, but this will no doubt cause a widespread debate about what rights freelancers should have and the ongoing debate about who are and who are not genuinely self-employed!

If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem, then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk  – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.

Please note that the advice given on this website and by our advisers is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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