Appeal to government to assist contractors through coronavirus outbreak

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    A freelancer trade body has appealed to the government to support freelancers in the event of a coronavirus epidemic in the United Kingdom.

    The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), a body that represents the UK freelance community, has called on the government to create an “emergency fund” to stop contractors and the self-employed being “left behind” in official planning for a coronavirus outbreak.

    The association is calling attention to the fact that, whilst employed workers are guaranteed sick pay or the opportunity to work from home in the event they are quarantined or if their office closes, freelancers and self-employed workers do not enjoy the same security and may end up losing substantial sums of income.

    IPSE also called on the government to provide guidance to the freelance community and establish an emergency fund to provide financial support to contractors and sole traders who may lose income due to a potential coronavirus epidemic breaking out in parts of the country.

    Andy Chamberlain, deputy director of policy at IPSE, said: “Freelancers and the self-employed must not be left behind in planning for the Coronavirus outbreak.  They are at particular risk because, unlike most employees, they are not eligible for sick pay if they have to self-isolate or their client office closes.

    “Freelancers must not be an afterthought in Government planning.  They should not be left to choose between their health and their income because they do not have sick pay.

    “IPSE has written to the Health Secretary calling on him to urgently issue guidance for freelancers.  We’ve also called on him set up an emergency fund to support freelancers and contractors who cannot avoid losing income because of the outbreak.

    “If you are freelance, you should not put yourself more at risk just because you are self-employed.  Start discussing arrangements with your client now, plan your income for the next few months carefully and, if possible, prepare to work remotely.  Crucially though, whether you’re an employee or a freelancer, health comes first.”

    4th March 2020.

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