A new survey of more than 250 contracting professionals has found that 80 per cent of them reject being classified as vulnerable workers, and say that they do not want any employment protection rights.

The study was conducted by ContractorCalculator and arises at a time when UK Ministers are about to launch a new employment status unit as part of an HMRC crackdown on companies that use agency workers or large numbers of self-employed people in order to deny them employment rights.

The findings come as drivers for the online taxi service Uber wait for an employment tribunal decision that will determine whether they should be categorised as employees rather than self-employed, whereupon they will become entitled to the same employment rights as traditional workers: sick pay, paid holiday leave, pensions, the minimum wage and other statutory benefits.

As reported on the News page of Staffing Industry Analysts’ website, the study also found that:

  • 88 per cent do not want maternity or paternity rights.
  • 82 per cent do not want sick pay, as 25 per cent are insured already while 80 per cent use savings instead.
  • 85 per cent do not want paid holiday leave.
  • 75 per cent do not wish to be compelled to join an auto-enrolled pension scheme.
  • 80 per cent do not wish to have additional rights to assist with grievances or disciplinary issues.
  • 94 per cent do not wish to have any restrictions imposed on the hours that they work.

ContractorCalculator’s founder and CEO, Dave Chaplin, said that the study shows how the gig economy is loved by highly skilled freelancers and contractors, who do not consider themselves exploited and do not want employment rights.

He added: “Government needs to understand that media reports associated with self-employed couriers and drivers who are part of the gig economy do not paint the full picture of self-employment. There are thousands upon thousands of the self-employed working on a business to business basis who are very happy with the way they work and the last thing they want is further legislative burdens. They do not see themselves as vulnerable workers.”

He criticised the Coalition and subsequent Cameron Administration for their tendency to push through poorly considered legislation that added significantly more red tape to the small business sector.

He added, “Government needs to understand and be very careful about how it decides to legislate and protect under paid workers who make up part of the low-paid gig economy without destroying the very valuable freelancer sector that underpins the UK workforce and economy.”

A contracting model not covered in the research was the Umbrella Company alternative, which permits independent professionals to work as flexibly as any other contractors but also grants them employment rights.

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