Employment versus self-employment

It seems as though our traditional views of what work actually is are being eroded by new ideas about employment.

Some of these ideas may be cast as ‘flexible working arrangements’ but are actually regressive, whereas others seem like a genuine opportunity to get out of the 9 to 5 drudgery. One part of society in particular who need to question how they’ll arrange their working week is mums.

Working Mums have released an article questioning whether it’s better to be employed in the traditional manner or to be self-employed, with pros and cons involved in both.


This is where the option of being self-employed becomes interesting. The internet has produced a host of self-employment opportunities in the creative industries; working freelance for an established company, or setting up your own net based business working from home. This applies particularly to creative people who might produce their own wares for sale, or for people who have a specialist job title such as freelance writers, artists or tutors.

The problems with self-employment include: Not being on a regular payroll and the admin responsibilities with regards to HMRC, the loss of office camaraderie, lack of sick pay and maternity leave and then there’s the lack of a pension scheme. Some might consider the stresses of trying to setup on your own overwhelming in combination with the stresses of motherhood.

We have selected some of the major advantages of being self-employed:

  • Be your own boss
  • Run the business how you want
  • Flexible working hours
  • Reap your own rewards
  • Earn money for yourself
  • Create your own success story


However, if you’re a workplace employed you receive a regular and consistent pay packet, your employer has a responsibility for your wellbeing, and you can sit back and earn without thinking about where you’ll stand next week.

You might love your job so asking you to give it up seems most unfair, and if you earn a reasonable wage, your mortgage and your lifestyle may be dependent on that all important joint income. You might get a good maternity leave package from your current workplace, and being self-employed you will lose your holidays. 

Nevertheless, for lower earners, being employed could be rendered useless when you take into consideration child care fees and lack of flexibility. Whichever decision you take, it’s wise to realise that self-employment can be a definite option, and in ideal circumstances, it can add a huge amount of elasticity to your working week.

We have summarised the benefits of being employed, although it is worth noting at a glance both options can have highs and lows of being the boss of yourself or taking a pay packet on a regular basis.

  • Holiday pay
  • Sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • A secure position in an organisation
  • A regular guaranteed income
  • Working with other people
  • Access to workplace pension schemes

Further reading on working mums

> Working mums: maternity rights in the workplace

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics

Employment Rights

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