covid-19: see advice in the Freelance

Freelance teachers and trainers will find enormous variations in the fees available, depending on whether they are working in the private or public sector.

Teaching can be really rewarding - and also extremely exhausting, especially if an hour's paid work turns into a day's actual work - or some nights' work, if loyalty to students built up over a year leads to over-involvement with assignment deadline panic.

Public sector colleges and universities often have fairly firmly set hourly rates - so in these cases the teacher's negotiations will be over how many hours they are paid for. Pay is often for very nominal "teaching hours" and both sides need to be clear how many actual hours are expected. See our notes on negotiating.

Rates for private colleges are more flexible, and for commercial training extremely so. There the field is wide open for negotiation over price. In some cases the client will feel they've got better value if they've paid more - just as more expensive perfumes are per se better value than cheap ones.

Many educational institutions tend to be reluctant to pay freelance teachers as freelances: sometimes the reason comes down to "computer says no" - for some software you must either be a PAYE "employee" or a supplier of physical objects - see the "Employment status" link below. NUJ members report some institutions being prepared to pay the gross amount and others being quite immovable on deducting tax and National Insurance.

More advice and links...
* On negotiating for teaching and training
* University and College Union (merged AUT/NATFHE)
* Employment status & when you should be able to be paid gross
* Uploaded 14/08/2222: if you have a printout, check the current version at
* Rates for the Job good, bad and ugly
* Join the NUJ to get individual advice & representation

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.