Freelancers lose as much as £5,000 a year due to unpaid work

Creative freelancers are losing more than £5,000 a year due to unpaid work, a report has revealed.

The research, conducted by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and the Freelancer Club, estimates that workers in the creative industries are missing out on an average of £5,394 per person, per year.

This figure represents an average of 31 chargeable days in the past two years undertaking assignments without pay.

The study also found that many freelancers were left unable to cover work-related costs, or even basic living expenses.

The research coincides with the launch of the #NoFreeWork campaign, set up by IPSE and The Freelancer Club to combat exploitative free work where the client profits financially.

It found that more than half (54 per cent) of freelancers have worked for free in the hope of gaining exposure for their work, while 45 per cent have worked for free to be associated with a reputable brand.

A worrying 20 per cent identify working for free as standard practice in their industry.

Commenting on the issue, IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce said: “This practice is devaluing our creative industries.

“Government needs to fast-track the appointment of a small business commissioner, who can give people someone to turn to. We’re not talking about people donating their time to charities. If a business is profiting financially from someone’s work then they deserve to be paid.”

Meanwhile, Matt Dowling, director at The Freelancer Club said: “I know from personal experience how common it is for big companies to expect freelancers to offer their time and skills for free. But this is a message for freelancers as much as it is for businesses who are taking them on.

“When you agree to work for free, and the client makes a monetary profit from this free work, you risk creating a race to the bottom that undermines daily rates of pay for the whole industry.”