With a range of employment reviews set to get underway in 2017, a major industry body has called for greater efforts to understand the ways of working among the contractor, freelance and wider self-employed community.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) has responded to the parliamentary Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee inquiry by asking for more to be done to help get to grips with the way people who choose to work in this way operate.

Particular areas of importance have been highlighted by the IPSE, including maternity allowance and pension provision.

Further efforts should also be made in schools to educate young people on working as contractors, freelancers or on a self-employed basis according to the organisation.

More should also be done by the government and the review committee, so says the IPSE, to become familiar with the varied segments of this section of the labour market.

Simon McVicker, IPSE director of policy and external affairs, said: “The number of self-employed in the UK has grown so rapidly in the last few years that it now represents 15% of the entire workforce. But employment law, and the tax system, has not yet caught up. It is important that the self-employed are clearly segmented, which is why we highlight detailed research as a first step towards clarification. Only when we truly understand who the self-employed are, can we properly determine what support they need.”

McVicker also pointed to the growth in the number of highly skilled self-employed professionals compared to lower skilled workers in the past five years.

“The two ends of the spectrum will not want, or expect, the same rights,” he said. “We should support those that are vulnerable, and maternity pay and pension provision are two clear areas for this, but we should also make it clear that unscrupulous businesses cannot be allowed to push people into self-employment. It undermines their rights and gives genuine self-employment a bad name. IPSE will work closely with BEIS to provide support and information wherever needed once this inquiry is published.”

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