Should you be getting holiday pay?

MANY UK freelances - especially "casuals" who are self-employed but do regular shifts for the same client - are entitled to holiday pay in law, but an NUJ survey found that almost nine out of ten did not receive it. Are you losing out? The NUJ has been successful in winning holiday pay and back pay for many of its members - see for example the October Freelance.

Holiday pay poster; Image: NUJ

The NUJ's holiday pay campaign poster

In the UK, those designated "workers" in employment law, as well as employees, are entitled to paid holiday of 5.6 weeks a year, equivalent to 28 days for someone on a five-day week.

Although many NUJ members are "casual" or "self-employed", they often work in ways that give them "worker" status in law.

You could be a worker and entitled to paid holiday if you do most of your work for one organisation - but you may also be eligible if you work for more than one organisation. You could be eligible regardless of the contract you work under - and whether or not it's in writing. You could be a worker if you are contracted to do the work personally, if you do the shifts in a workplace and someone else controls your work.

The NUJ's latest members' survey found that 88 per cent of freelances, many working for the same organisation for years, do not get paid time off. Often the organisation uses standard contracts stating that the person is self-employed or an independent contractor. The union has successfully disputed this, winning members holiday entitlement and backpay.

The Union holds twice-monthly legal surgeries with Thompsons Solicitors. If you think you might be a worker, get in touch and we can advise you confidentially. If within the last three months you have stopped working for a particular organisation, they can also help.

There's now an NUJ campaign on holiday pay, with a printable poster as a PDF - see below. This gives more detail on the circumstances in which freelances might be eligiblefor holiday pay.

Please take the trouble to circulate this PDF among your networks, especially to colleagues who are not yet NUJ members. Getting help and support from the NUJ in fighting battles for holiday pay is another good reason to join the NUJ, so spread the word.

Watch this space and the @NUJofficial Twitter account and also the Twitter of @NUJ_LFB for more on the holiday pay campaign, including hashtags to disseminate via social media.

Members should contact the Freelance Office for advice on holiday pay. See also the Freelance Fees Guide.