Self-employed earn more and work less than salaried workers

UK self-employed generate mean annual revenues of £32,623 (£5,000 more than the average UK salary), despite working 10 hours less per week.

The UK’s self-employed workers earn £33K average annual revenues, work fewer hours and are happier than those in traditional employment according to the latest set of findings from the ‘Definitive Study of the Self-Employed,’ commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks.

Research among 5,010 UK self-employed found these workers generated mean annual revenues of £32,623 (£5,000 more than the average UK salary), despite working 10 hours less per week.

Of those who have been a salaried worker, two thirds (66 per cent) claim to be financially better off or the same, and 65 per cent also feel better off in terms of ‘life satisfaction’.

The number of self-employed grew to 4.77 million in January 2017 – a sharp rise to nearly 15 per cent of the workforce and one age group in particular is making the most of this trend – the over-65s. Self-employed over-65s achieve mean annual revenues of £40,000, £7,000 more than the average self-employed worker.

They also work 21 hours a week, six hours a week less than the average self-employed worker and 16 hours a week less than the average UK full-time employee.

Being your own boss is desirable

The benefits of money and time are clear, so the research also considered nuanced reasons for choosing to work for oneself. Control of schedule (77 per cent), more flexibility to work to one’s own terms (68 per cent) and liking being one’s own boss (65 per cent) are leading reasons, with not worrying about workplace politics (47 per cent) also regularly a reference.

Female respondents want to work on their own terms (72 per cent) and to pursue their passions / interests (41 per cent) more than their male counterparts (31 per cent), while men want to be their own boss (67 per cent) more often than women (63 per cent).

Dominic Allon, vice president and managing director, Intuit Europe, says, ‘People are becoming self-employed in droves. The financial rewards, extra time available and better quality of life are the headline benefits of a career and lifestyle choice that is changing the face of the UK’s workforce. With more and more opportunities becoming available, all enabled by better tech and infrastructure, it’s a trend we expect to increase at pace.’

However, the research also reveals pain points involved in going it alone. Not having enough predictable income (58 per cent) and uncertainty of the future (44 per cent) were the most frequently cited challenges.

Finances pose a concern

Concern around work / life balance was also identified, nearly one in four (23 per cent) say setting boundaries to stop work becoming a 24/7 commitment was a challenge. In addition, 17 per cent are concerned with managing their finances correctly, pertinent with the January 31st tax deadline looming.

Many respondents also revealed they chose self-employment in reaction to negative circumstances. Twenty-three per cent made the move after losing a job, 7 per cent said it was a reaction to having hours and/or pay reduced at work and a further 7 per cent said it was due to a health emergency with the individual or the individual’s family.

Allon continues, ‘To truly make the most of the financial gains, time savings and the happiness being self-employed can bring, individuals must stay laser focused on their finances.

‘No longer backed by the experienced finance teams and processes that exist within most businesses of all sizes, individuals can have the benefits of going self-employed undermined on tax deadline day when not enough has been put aside or if there’s not a clear divide between business and personal finances.’

Intuit QuickBooks has researched a significant number of the self-employed across the UK to understand the individuals behind this rapidly-growing group, including what’s driving them, their working habits and what the future holds for this workforce. This is the second in a series of findings that will be released by the company.

Further reading on self-employed

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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Self Employed