No, Contractors aren’t “desperate” – working short-term gigs is their choice
It’s increasingly apparent that the freelance “gig-culture” is on the rise in the UK, but contrary to the government’s view that freelancers are being taken advantage of, an important new report from McKinsey makes it clear that most Contractors are working this way out of choice – rather than out of necessity.
It may be difficult for some (including many within the government) to comprehend why Contractors would choose a career of apparent “insecurity”, remaining untethered to any business, and changing companies every few months. So, they have assumed that it’s because Contractors can’t get a “proper” 9-5 job. McKinsey’s report, supported by data from 8,000 freelancers across Europe and the US, corrects that perception – and goes some way to eradicating the negative stereotyping of freelance Contractors.
Freelance Contractors choose to work this way because they get to be their own boss, with far more autonomy over work-life balance, and they get to use their specialist skills in a far broader range of companies and projects. Overall, they are less likely to get that ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling. But what about the money? Most Contractors working through personal service Ltd companies don’t enjoy the benefits of permanently employed staff (holiday and sickness pay, redundancy, company pension contributions, healthcare etc.) – so why don’t we hear them bemoaning their exploitation? Because, most Contractors (at least those at the level we deal with) are paid very well for the days they do work, and have their companies structured in such a way that they retain a greater percentage of their gross pay in their pocket – whilst remaining completely legal.
So, with flexible working on the rise (driven partly by employers’ sporadic needs to pay for specialist skills, and partly by Contractors’ lifestyle choices) – could independent contracting become the new norm? We certainly think it’s heading that way…
* Credit to McKinsey’s recent report, ‘Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy’