National Freelancers Day 2020: What Did We Learn?
18th June marked IPSE’s annual flagship event, National Freelancers Day, allowing freelancers the opportunity to network with others, attend sessions to help their understanding of legislation and support them with their business aspirations whilst seeking advice from the event’s speakers.
Although the event was hosted digitally this year, it was as informative as ever and served as the perfect opportunity for the community to come together. Once again, the team from SJD attended the day and were on hand to provide their knowledge to other guests where possible.
In case you missed it, we’ve compiled some of the highlights from this year.
Key takeaways from this year’s event
The talks which took place this year focused on four key areas: wellbeing, winning work, finance and taking charge. Joined by some of the industry’s biggest names such as Contractor Calculator’s Dave Chaplin and IPSE’s own Andy Chamberlain, speakers touched on some of the issues currently impacting the industry, how to manage finances and achieve goals.
Some key takeaways included:
67% of self-employed workers aren’t being paid on time
- 67% of self-employed workers are being paid late
- 71% of 18-34 year olds have experienced late pay and younger contractors are more likely to do free work
- Freelancers spend on average 20 days a year chasing payments
- 35% wait more than a year before being paid
In response to this, they offered some practical advice to protect small businesses and help to ensure they’re paid on time:
- Set your payment terms and conditions early and ensure these are written in contract
- Know your rights when it comes to charging interest and debt recovery
- Check the payment practices of business before you contract with them
- Consider payment software
- Contact the office of Small Business Commissioner to get help and advice – use their calculator to work out interest
“Now is not the time to disrupt the market”
During their talk on ‘Politics and the future of freelancing post-COVID-19’, Dave Chaplin (Contractor Calculator), Andy Chamberlain (IPSE), Tom Hadley (REC) and Emma Agyemang (Financial Times) discussed what they felt was ahead for the self-employed workforce.
Dave stated that he believed the IR35 reform was the wrong policy at the wrong time and he urged the government to use the extension opportunity to look once again at making the legislation more reasonable and fit for purpose. He and Andy also urged the importance of speaking out against IR35.
When looking to the future past the COVID-19 pandemic, the panel suggested that now more than ever, the flexible workforce will be in greater demand and skilled contractors and freelancers are needed now more than ever.
It’s important to look after yourself
Ewan Main, Product Manager at Mind, discussed the importance of looking after your mental health when self-employed. His advice was even more relevant due to the recent shift to home working as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and applied to both freelancers and permanent employees.
Here are a few tips from the talk:
- Stay connected with other freelancers and people you know
- Invest in a hobby to maintain a positive work-life balance
- Know how to switch off and disconnect from your work. Working from the home office can mean it’s tempting to check your emails or do an extra hour here and there, but don’t let it become a habit
- Take a break if you need it
National Freelancers Day and SJD
This year, two members of the SJD team joined National Freelancers Day to lend their expertise and educate the audience on key issues for contractors and freelancers. Our veteran National Freelancers Day speaker James Foster was joined by Jo Harris where they touched upon The Good Work Plan, IR35 and the impact of coronavirus on the industry.
When asked about some of the ways in which contractors can help to support the campaign against IR35, they offered the following insight:
- Educate yourself – make sure you understand IR35, its intricacies and how limited companies stand to be impacted by the private sector reforms
- Help IPSE – write to your local MP and ask that they take notice of the work which IPSE is already doing and create more noise
- Take to social media – retweet and become an activist on social media using the hashtag #StopIR35
- Consider your alternatives – if your contract is caught inside IR35, consider whether an umbrella company would better suit your needs
The pair also took the opportunity to connect with freelancers throughout the day, offering support and insight where necessary.
When asked about National Freelancers Day and the role she and James played, Jo had the following to say:
“Myself and James Foster were delighted to be invited to speak at IPSE’s National Freelancers Day and have the opportunity to hold 121 sessions throughout the day. There was a great selection of speakers covering a wide array of topics and it was great to connect with so many talented freelancers on the day. Listening to their stories was inspirational and it gives us the drive to continue to support the flexible workforce on their journeys. I was sceptical about the shift to a virtual event but IPSE pulled it off and it worked really well. Looking forward to next year already!”
Though this year’s event was a bit different, we still think it was an enriching experience and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who attended.