If you are self employed, I highly recommend that you read, Help for the Way We Work Now, the Op-Ed piece by Sara Horowitz, Founder of the Freelancers Union, published in the Labor Day issue of the NY Times.
In it, she proposes specific policy changes that would begin to address some of the 21st century challenges we face when we take responsibility for ourselves. Here’s an excerpt:
In the freelance economy, workers inevitably face periods without pay. But unemployment benefits are not available to most freelancers, so they have virtually no safety net. Even when they are working, freelancers don’t enjoy the essential health care and retirement benefits associated with salaried employment. While the Affordable Care Act is helping freelancers with lower incomes gain access to insurance, some who do not qualify for subsidies are struggling to cope with rising health care costs. And it’s nearly impossible for many freelancers to plan for retirement when they are forced to dip into their savings during periods between jobs.
In response, we should develop a new system of portable benefits that reflects the realities of episodic income. Specifically, freelancers should be allowed to put away pretax income into shared accounts, where clients would also make prorated contributions based on the number of hours worked.
This portable benefits system would be a new program, but it would not be another government entitlement. Instead, it would be administered by unions, nonprofits, faith-based groups and other community organizations that would collect payments and distribute benefits when freelancers needed them.
Finally, unlike traditional employees, freelancers have little recourse against wage theft. In New York City alone, according to our research, 77 percent of freelancers have faced denied or late payment in their careers. At last count, 44 percent had dealt with clients who refused to pay in the previous year. And while the average amount owed was more than $6,000, the maximum amount that New Yorkers can sue for in small claims court — which itself can be a costly, time-consuming process — is $5,000. That’s why freelancers need strict and enforceable protections from denied and late payment. (Read the entire article here.)
I know there is a lot of debate about the use of the word “freelancer.” But whether you identify as one or not, if you are self employed, there isn’t a lot of support available. I love what the Freelancers Union has been doing for more than 20 years now — talk about persistence!