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NUJ submits legal challenge to government’s lockdown support measures

THE NUJ has launched a court case challenging the UK government's lockdown support measures. The case, filed on 22 July, rests on the claim that the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) introduced by the Treasury has excluded large numbers of freelance workers and is therefore discriminatory. The legal action marks a significant acceleration in the union's campaign to secure equal treatment for freelance workers.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

The NUJ has campaigned hard to persuade the government to do the right thing and support freelances who have not been allowed to access government support during this unprecedented health crisis. Sadly, that hasn't happened and many NUJ freelances have experienced enormous hardship.

We're taking this legal step because it is clearly wrong and grossly unfair that some workers have been given vital support whilst others have been cast adrift. Even at this late stage our hope remains that the government will rethink and take urgent measures to right this wrong.

This crisis should act as a wake-up call about the working practices for journalists, and other freelances in the creative industries. We need reformed public policy for freelances and the self-employed that is fit for purpose and reflects the way in which workers are forced to operate by employers.

Full details are at the link below.

25 September 2020

It has turned out not to be possible to pursue this case. Pamela Morton, NUJ Freelance Organiser, said: "the NUJ legal team evaluated the government's response to the different elements of the case we initiated, and advised that the case's prospects had weakened. We initiated the case because we believe that it is grossly unfair and wrong that individuals have been left out of support and we will continue to campaign on this and for rights and protections for freelances but we could not progress with the legal claim."