One in four employees considering contracting, new research by IPSE & Workwell

7 November 2023

Nearly one in four employees are considering switching from full-time employment to become contractors or freelancers, new research* from Workwell & IPSE shows.

The study found 24% of employees would consider making the move to working for themselves with nearly two fifths of them saying they could switch within the next 12 months.

We collaborated with IPSE, a community of over 35,000 self-employed people and questioned people already working as contractors, freelancers and those running their own businesses to find out why they had made the move.

  • We found the key motivation was to have more flexibility over how, when and where they work. Around 55% surveyed cited that as their reason for making the move while 45% said they wanted to be their own boss.
  • Just one in five (20%) said they moved because they wanted to make more money while 30% did so because they did not like where they were working. The COVID 19 pandemic was a key factor for 7% who said it had made them reassess what they wanted from life.
  • More than two-thirds (67%) questioned said they had been contracting, freelancing or running their own business for more than four years.

 

Chris Mollan, Head of Accountancy Services at Workwell said: “Contracting and freelancing remains an attractive option for substantial numbers of employees with around one in four considering giving up the security of working for someone else. It is clear that the motivation to switch is more about having increased flexibility in your working life and being to some extent your own boss than it is about earning more.

“However making the move does require planning and a clear idea of what you are going to do as well as expert support on a wide range of issues around accountancy and tax efficiency that people in employment will not have had to think about.”

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE, said: “It’s no surprise that self-employment’s offer of increased flexibility and autonomy in work continues to be an attractive option for swathes of the UK’s workforce. For many, this could mean turning a passion project or side hustle into a fully-fledged freelance business, whilst for others self-employment offers a sustainable route to work for people managing a long-term illness or caring for others. Despite this, those considering a career in self-employment have been continuously overlooked in this government’s ‘back to work’ drive.

“Government must not miss its opportunity to support people in launching a self-employed career, especially when today’s figures show a strong appetite to operate in this way. Simplifying tax rules for the self-employed and more tailored support and resources for new freelancers would not only help them to succeed early in their self-employed careers, but for many years to come.”

Note: We commissioned independent research agency Viewsbank to interview 1,447 adults aged 18-plus between July 6th and 18th 2023 including 398 who are self-employed, freelancers or contractors.

 

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