COVID-19: Saving the self-employed?

  • Government laid out an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill yesterday (23 March 2020) which made provisions to top up self-employed workers earnings during the COVID-19 outbreak
  • The Secretary of State must, by regulations, introduce a scheme of Statutory Self-Employment Pay
  • Payments will be made out of public funds to individuals who are self-employed, or freelancers
  • The net monthly earnings of a self-employed individual will not fall below either 80% of their monthly net earnings, averaged over the last three years, or £2,917 whichever is lower

Aspire Comment

The amendment to the bill to include “Statutory Self-employment Pay” comes after the Prime Minister was forced to put stricter measures in place to ensure people stayed at home wherever possible which risks putting millions of people in serious financial hardship.

Throughout the outbreak, multiple measures have been announced to help employees and businesses survive shortages of work and loss of income due to the crisis but very little had been put in place to protect the self-employed individuals who make up a large proportion of our labour market. It was reported that self-employed individuals, unable to work during the crisis, could only claim £94.25 per week through the benefits system which many claimed would not be enough to cover their essential monthly bills.

In these unprecedented times, our view is that the technicalities of employment status should be put aside in order to ensure that as many of the working population as possible can resume work once the outbreak is contained and life resumes to normal. This is a welcomed measure providing security for self-employed people however, it is another system which the Government will need to build as it is unlikely to have these facilities in place.

To view the amendment to the Coronavirus Bill, click here.

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