The music industry is powered by its talented workforce and the invaluable contributions of freelancers and the self-employed. In music, those who work as freelancers or the self-employed may do a wide range of roles, spanning from performers, composers, and producers to marketing experts, videographers, and publicists. Freelance and self-employed workers make up as much as 72% of the music, performing and visual arts, compared to just 15% of the overall workforce (DCMS 2019).
Issues impacting freelancers are therefore even more salient in the music industry. Freelancers 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.
We’re asking that the Government:
Extend Discrimination and Harassment Protections In The Equality Act 2010 To All Freelancers And Self-Employed
Freelancers and the self-employed 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. Find out more here.
Introduce Support For Freelance and Self-Employed Creatives Between Opportunities
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 self-employed and contribute to the overall stability of the creative industries. France’s “intermittent du spectacle” model can be used as inspiration.
Shared Parental Leave & Pay Rights
UK Music has also campaigned to update shared parental leave and pay rules to include self-employed and freelance parents.
Since it was introduced in 2015, shared parental leave and pay legislation has meant that employees can split their parental leave. It’s a flexible system that means parents can make the decisions about childcare and work that are right for them.
However, there is no shared parental leave and pay system in place for self-employed parents. The current system of Maternity Allowance for the self-employed places the entire burden of childcare onto the mother and offers no financial support for self-employed fathers or same-sex partners wanting to share some or all of the childcare.
The music industry risks losing talent and diversity if it fails to improve the working conditions of parents and carers.
Changes to the legislation would also be a major step forward for gender-equality in the music industry. Find out more here.
Freelancer & Self-Employed Fund
UK Music is calling on the Government to provide a freelancer and self-employed fund.
A recovery fund for creative industry freelance workers and the self-employed is essential to keep people with skills in the industry following the pandemic.
Programmes for a freelancer and self-employed recovery fund could focus on increasing the skills of freelancers, or the Government could mirror support offered in France, by providing a stipend for creative freelancers with a certain level of work in the sector to support them between jobs.
This support should sit alongside increased public funding for the arts sector through Arts Council funding and other initiatives.