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Self Employed & Sick

I recently read this very well-written article on crunch.co.uk. It’s all about being self-employed and being sick.

As a self-employed person, in a situation where I only get paid if I work, getting ill is a bit of a nightmare. I have a family to support and whilst I love being self-employed and running my own schedule this is one of the drawbacks. I was hospitalised before Christmas and have generally felt run down since, picking up a nasty stomach bug which put me in bed for a week and another man-flu couple of days.

When I don’t work, the work doesn’t get done. What I found really interesting in the information the found out off the back of a Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) survey:

80% of self-employed respondents said they would try not to take time off work should they become sick or injured.

That isn’t right. I’m not comparing my week in bed with an upset stomach to proper sickness or injury. If I was employed, I’d be able to take a sick day. If I broke my leg whilst employed, I’d be off work until it was better or I was able to go into the office with probably less work to do and flexible hours or something. Companies, businesses and bosses seem to have an understanding like that. However, with more and more self-employed people every week, month and year at the moment – the government have those statistics themselves which is why they want to change how these people are taxed – if you’re going to changing how these people are taxed, surely you should change how they are treated too?

You can claim benefits if you are ill or injured, and many self-employed people choose to have an insurance policy which covers them incase something happens, but I think it should be fair across the board. If you start to tax people the same, treat them with the same fair ways and means. If I get ill, I should be allowed time to recover, not fretting about work and trying to recover quicker, or working from a hospital bed.

It’s a tricky subject and not one I fully understand. But if changes are happening regarding how self-employed people contribute to society because there are more of us, give us a reason to want to stay self-employed! If I was to get hit by a car this afternoon, my work would not get done, clients would leave me and I would be penniless, through no fault of my own. What do you think?

*since writing this I’ve been ill again, with the same thing I had back at Christmas. Whilst the doctor has referred me for more tests and cameras here and there (!) he did say that it was probably partly down to stress. I think it’s easy as self-employed people to get stressed. Yes, self-employment is freeing, but it’s also stressful. Let’s all take time out and let our bodies & minds rest, recover & heal.

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