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Manifesto For Music: Enhance Freelancer Protections

UK Music's Policy and Campaigns Officer Dougie Brown explores what Government action is needed to support freelancers and self-employed in the music industry. 

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02.07.2024: UK Music’s Policy and Campaigns Officer Dougie Brown explores what Government action is needed to support freelancers and self-employed in the music industry. 

The music industry is powered by its talented workforce and the invaluable contributions of freelancers and the self-employed. Freelancers and the self-employed in music cover a wide range of roles, spanning from performers, composers, and producers to marketing experts, videographers, and publicists.

In 2019, freelance and self-employed workers make up as much as 72% of music, performing and visual arts, compared to just 15% of the overall workforce.

Issues impacting freelancers and the self-employed are therefore even more salient in the music industry. Freelancers and the self-employed miss out on certain protections that are afforded to other workers.

In 2019, 61% of musicians surveyed by the Musicians’ Union said they felt at greater risk of experiencing sexual harassment because of their freelance status.

Covid-19 further exposed the need for increased financial aid for freelancers, who often fell through support gaps during restrictions.

Many expert freelancers have left the sector due to the lack of financial security, leaving significant skills gaps in many parts of the industry.

The protection and support given to these workers is fundamental to the success of music in the UK.

The next Government should:

  • Extend the protections relating to discrimination and harassment in the Equality Act 2010 to all freelancers. Freelancers are currently deprived of legal safeguards concerning bullying, harassment, and discrimination due to their employment status. Extending the coverage of the Equality Act 2010 will ensure that freelancers enjoy the same rights and protections as other employees.
  • Introduce support for freelance creatives between roles, drawing inspiration from France’s “intermittent du spectacle” model. Freelance creatives have felt significant financial challenges due to gaps in government policy during Covid-19. The next Government should introduce proposals, inspired by those in France, where freelance creatives are entitled to financial assistance during periods of reduced work opportunities. This would enhance the resilience of freelancers and contribute to the overall stability of the creative industries.
  • Extend shared parental leave to all self-employed workers, also ensuring equal access for parents taking adoption leave. Currently, self-employed parents have no access to shared parental leave and pay, as the current system only provides Maternity Allowance for self-employed mothers, leaving the entire burden of childcare on them. This inflexible system perpetuates gender-stereotypes and is holding back equality in the music industry.

Read UK Music’s Manifesto for Music to find out more about what UK Music is calling for.

Find out more about UK Music’s campaign for more support for freelancers and the self-employed here. 

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