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MU Calls on Government to Properly Protect Freelance Workers

We are calling on Government to properly protect freelance workers affected by or self-isolating due to coronavirus.

Photograph of woman sneezing into a tissue.
Freelancers do not qualify for many of the rights other working people take for granted, including sick pay. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Freelancers do not qualify for many of the rights other working people take for granted, including sick pay. And even though the Government has said it would make it easier for self-employed people to access benefits, it is not enough to cover the loss of income people face.

The system also does not reflect how self-employed people work or pay insurance – we’ve heard from musicians who are disqualified from help because they set aside money to pay their taxes.

Not only that, but with the Prime Minister advising everyone to avoid all unnecessary contact and travel without officially announcing a lockdown, venues are facing having to close because of a lack of trade.

If they do that, they will be unable to claim for the loss on their insurance policies. That means gigs and events being cancelled, and musicians not getting paid what they are owed.

Musicians who work freelance are worried about how they will pay the bills. That’s not something anyone should have to worry about in 2020.

It’s not just musicians who are worried. People working in all sectors face losing wages and losing work as a result of COVID-19.

Government must act

We are calling on Government to:

  • Officially ban pubs, theatres, venues and other small businesses staying open during the coronavirus outbreak
  • Ensure insurance providers meet their obligations
  • Announce statutory sick pay that is really for all from day one of self isolation whether you have coronavirus or someone in your household does
  • Implement a Universal Basic Income for freelancers during the coronavirus outbreak – or, at least, easier access to Universal Credit and enough help to pay the bills

Take action now!

Email your MP using Write to Them.

If you’re not sure what to say, here is something to get you started:

Please ask the Prime Minister to:

  • Officially ban pubs, theatres, venues and other small businesses staying open during the coronavirus outbreak
  • Ensure insurance providers meet their obligations
  • Announce statutory sick pay that is really for all from day one of self isolation whether you have coronavirus or someone in your household does
  • Implement a Universal Basic Income for freelancers during the coronavirus outbreak

I also ask that you contact the Musicians’ Union’s Head of Government Relations Isabelle Gutierrez at isabelle.gutierrez@theMU.org for more about the challenges COVID-19 is presenting me and other freelancers, and what else you can do to support us.

Remember to explain how coronavirus is already affecting you as an individual and how it might affect you as the country locks down – personal stories always make the case stronger.

Thanks to you, MPs are coming on side

Thanks to musicians taking action, MPs including Harriet Harman, Kevin Brennan, Thangam Debbonaire, Stephen Doughty, Jo Stevens, Cat Smith and Ian Blackford have expressed their support. Keep an eye out on our Twitter feed for updates.

Sign the petition to include self-employed in statutory sick pay

Early on in the coronavirus outbreak, the Prime Minister announced that statutory sick pay will be available from day one for people affected by coronavirus.

This is great news – but it does not go far enough. Sign the petition to include self-employed people in statutory sick pay.

Supporting the TUC campaign

The TUC is calling for sick pay from day one for low paid and zero hours workers.

This is essential for those musicians on zero hours teaching and other contracts, and in solidarity with everyone on those terms. Please sign the petition via Megaphone.

While the TUC’s campaign does call for sick pay for all, their call does not actually cover freelance workers despite TUC Congress’ commitment to include freelancers as well as employed workers in all policy work.

That’s why we’re calling on everyone who supports freelancers to ask their MP about sick pay for freelancers too.


Published: 18/03/2020

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