Self-employed Londoners have been much more exposed to the economic shock of the pandemic. This report calls on policymakers and employers to adopt a Client Charter of good practice to protect the rights of self-employed workers.
Our Snapshot of Londoners survey found that the pandemic has pushed more self-employed people into financial hardship: 55 per cent of self-employed Londoners said that COVID-19 has negatively affected their income, compared to 44 per cent of employees. On top of this, these workers often experience bad client behaviour (e.g. late payments or last-minute cancellations), struggle to pay for expensive workspaces and have few professional development opportunities.
Supporting low-paid self-employed workers to grow their earnings and enjoy their working life should be a priority for policymakers and employers as the UK emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.
The next Mayor of London should create a Client Charter of good practice which could be adopted by London businesses to facilitate the relationship with the self-employed workers they hire.
The Client Charter would:
- Ensure self-employed workers are paid fair fees and receive payment on time;
- Uphold anti-bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment policies, as well as complaints procedures;
- Uphold health and safety standards for self-employed workers;
- Offer mental health support schemes to self-employed workers, where these are offered to employees; and
- Review procurement processes to ensure these do not put self-employed workers at a disadvantage – particularly workers from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Client Charter should be implemented alongside a suite of other measures, including grants for self-employed workers to access existing mentorship portals, online support and training courses to assist with professional development, and planning policies that secure long-term affordable workspaces.