Freelancers and smallest companies getting hit in the pocket 

The UK's freelancers and micro-businesses only get paid for two-thirds (69 per cent) of the work they should be paid for.

Given that the UK is home to 5.2 million micro-firms and 1.88 million freelancers, this suggests that each business potentially missed out on thousands of pounds they were due last year.

Of the 10 million hours recorded and tracked by accounting software company FreeAgent’s customers in 2015, 80 per cent were classed as ‘billable’ (ie time that customers could charge their clients for).

However, 31 per cent of this time was not ‘billed’, meaning the UK’s freelancers and micro-business worked more than a third of their working hours for free.

In addition to not charging for all the work undertaken in 2015, Britain has actually seen a 15 per cent rise in people working more than the maximum weekly 48 working hours. This is in stark contrast to countries who are introducing six-hour working days (such as Sweden).

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent says that, for many UK freelancers and micro-business owners, the typical nine-to-five just doesn’t exist.

‘They often work irregular and long hours, which they may not always get paid for, and on top of this they also have the added pressure of staying on top of their business finances and tax obligations,’ he says.

‘One positive development is that technology has really helped to take the strain off freelancers and micro-business owners when it comes to staying on top of their admin, managing their financial accounts and tracking their time. But it’s still surprising to see how much of their hard work is effectively being done for free.’

Many business owners invest some of their own personal time into the projects they work on, which they don’t bill their clients for, Molyneux continues.

‘But we believe there are also many who don’t feel comfortable charging clients for important admin such as meetings and research, which they actually should be including in their bills. By doing so, they may not be working as profitably, or as efficiently, as they could be.’

Further reading on freelancers

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of 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