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Almost half of PAYE freelancers fear they won’t be supported by government

Just two per cent of PAYE freelancers have been furloughed by the last company they worked for

A survey of PAYE freelancers by union Bectu has found 47 per cent were not employed on 1st March and do not expect to be eligible for support through the coronavirus job retention scheme.

The survey, which took place over the weekend, questioned 1,900 PAYE freelancers in the UK.

It found that 23 per cent believed that their most recent employer could furlough them but wouldn’t, and only 2 per cent had been furloughed.

Some TV and film production companies have begun furloughing freelancers, including Warner Bros and HBO.

Bectu is writing to all production companies and urging them to follow the lead of other companies and:

  • Furlough workers using the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Retain staff where possible and avoid unnecessary contract terminations
  • Compensate crew hired on daily contracts in line with those who are on weekly contracts, as Warner Bros is doing

The letter continues: “We must face this pandemic with gusto and ensure that every stakeholder in the industry actively participates in ensuring crew wellbeing during this incredibly difficult time.”

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “Bectu is aware that there are many gaps in government provisions for de facto freelancers and the self-employed. Many people on fixed-term contracts are looking for clarification and guidance from the government about how they can be furloughed as the coronavirus job retention scheme is currently their only option for financial support.

“Bectu is making representations to the Treasury that it must quickly update its guidelines to ensure that those who weren’t on a company’s payroll on 28th February are covered.

“The Treasury should make it clear that these workers can and should be re-hired and furloughed by their last engager – even if this was before the 28th February cut-off date. It also needs to make the funds available for companies that are furloughing before the end of April as well as insisting employers furlough people rather than allowing them the choice.”