10 April 2020
Please see updated advice and reports:
Coronavirus - advice for freelances
THE NUJ's Freelance Industrial Council has prepared advice for freelance members on the covid-19 virus outbreak.
Please take a moment to read it here on the NUJ site.
It also urges members to sign the petition on sick pay for the self-employed, which is here. It notes that the UK budget last week included changes to the sick pay system, but the chancellor provided nothing for self-employed people who self-isolate, other than to suggest they apply for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit: "This is unacceptable."
"ESA and Universal Credit", it notes "are welfare benefits for those on very low incomes, and the application process is long and complex. Such benefits will not help those who depend for their living on earnings from self-employment: earnings which in many cases will be lost as a result of illness or self-isolation."
Francis Sedgemore, Freelance Industrial Council chair, said: "A recent survey of freelance members conducted by the NUJ revealed that around 40 per cent undertake work on clients' premises, or on assignment. Photographers are the most visible example, but writers and editors often work away from home, and we know that some have lost income as a result of coronavirus-related restrictions."
Natasha Hirst, Photographers' Council chair, said: "Photographers and videographers are experiencing a double disadvantage as a result of the disgraceful lack of thought given to the self-employed. Income is being lost due to cancellation of events and commissions and the lack of SSP is leaving individuals without income if they become unwell with covid-19. We encourage members to inform their MP's of their concerns and remind the Government that freelancers are vital to the economy."
There is a template letter for freelance journalists to lobby HMG in respect of Statutory Sick Pay for the self-employed here.