According to the IPSE, umbrella contractors in the UK are losing 5 thousand pounds a year because of unpaid work.
This information has come from a survey the IPSE (Association of Independent Professional and the Self Employed) conducted recently, where they asked 946 umbrella contractors, freelancers, and general self employed workers about their experience of unpaid work.
Interestingly, the survey found that contractors in creative industries are more likely to work unpaid as opposed to contractors in tech industries.
Why are so many people working for free? Sometimes it appears that clients simply are not paying, which ultimately means they end up doing the work for free, but other times it seems the contractor agreed to do the work for free, either in a bid to get experience, or to get noticed by certain companies.
This has prompted many contractors and freelance professionals to come up with the #NoFreeWork hash tag on Twitter, in a bid to educate people on why they shouldn’t work for free, even when starting out.
It might appear to be a good idea to work for free when you have no clients, but ultimately it is just a way to get taken advantage of.
Bizarrely, 20% of those who took part in the survey said that working for free was a standard practice in their industry.
I really don’t get this at all…who would see working for free as a “standard practice?” Perhaps they don’t have bills to pay, but it really isn’t a good idea to do any kind of work for free as it doesn’t put value on your time.
If a potential client starts to talk about standard practice and all of that nonsense, then ignore them and go to the next one. If you are in an industry where nobody wants to pay, then I think it’s time to move into another industry, one where clients understand the value of what you are offering.
What about companies that think nothing of hiring freelancers and then not paying them for their time and work? In my opinion, more needs to be done here to stop people getting away with this.
Maybe a small business commissioner could be installed by the government to get involved when clients don’t pay, or maybe umbrella contractors should simply begin taking payments upfront, especially when they haven’t worked for a client before? Something needs to be done.
It even appears that in some industries you can’t even get free work, as 40% of those surveyed commented that they usually had competition for free jobs and very often didn’t even get them.
Some might argue that if people are willing to work for free then let companies take advantage of that. To a point I agree, but ultimately I think nothing good will ever come from a something for nothing mindset, and you will get to a point where the skills on offer won’t be very good quality.