Coronavirus is the word on everyone’s lips around the world right now. So, this blog takes a look at how the Coronavirus might affect freelancers.
The impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and the loss of human life currently seems to unfortunately be a best guess scenario.
The British government recommend that those without sick pay should claim benefits instead if they find themselves in a position where they will need to self-isolate. But this is easier said than done.
Opinions on the severity of Coronavirus seem to be divided between two camps: those who say that the virus is only slightly more severe than flu and that the media is scaremongering to create headlines and thereby boost profits, versus those who state that it is just as fatal and contagious as TB. Whatever your opinion is on the virus, now that the UK government has started to discuss measures for delaying the spread of the virus including “banning big events, closing schools, encouraging people to work from home and discouraging the use of public transport”, if you’re a freelancer then you will want to know how the virus might affect you.
Large companies that depend on self-employed staff to conduct their business, such as Uber, Deliveroo and DPD have stated that they are aware that they could have staff members continuing to work when they should be self-isolating, due to concerns about the impact of the lack of pay on their lives. Obviously, if this were to happen then the spread of the virus would be significant. In order to encourage staff to self-isolate, Deliveroo is “considering offering financial support to affected riders in the UK as it has done in the Hong Kong”. Whilst this is a generous and significant move to make, if you are a freelancer working solely for yourself and not for a large, multi-national company you might be dependent entirely on yourself in order to keep the wolf from the door.
If you, like many of us, regularly work from home, self-isolation may seem straightforward. However, if you do start to suffer with the debilitating respiratory symptoms of the virus then you might not have the energy or ability to work and therefore continue bringing in a salary. What then? “Gig economy workers are typically classified as self-employed meaning they are not eligible for statutory sick pay. Insurance policies for accident, illness and unemployment may cover wages lost to coronavirus infection”. So, it’s worth checking with your insurance provider what protection you have in place should it become necessary for you to use it.
Ultimately right now the most important thing to do is to keep yourself and your family safe. For up to date guidance on how to do that, consult the World Health Organization’s website.