Category Archives: Freelance Workers

Clarkson and the N Word – a slippery slope?


Jeremy Clarkson is in the news once again.   Last time for reciting the old nursery rhyme eeny meeny miny mo….and going on to use the now forbidden N word.  And now we have the ‘slopes’ debacle.   It seems there is no end to the ways in which one media person can create offence to various groups.

This is not the first or second time Clarkson has offended. I am not writing to debate the rights and wrongs of old  childhood nursery rhymes, changing language and societal norms or even race discrimination.   But few organisations would be able to endure this kind of publicity…


What if you were the BBC?

What if it were your brand being associated with this debate?

Would this be damaging to your business?

Many organisations struggle with managing ‘stars’ who do things everyone else would get fired for.  Jeremy Clarkson is not employed by the BBC. Like so many people he is not an employee of the organisation he is so publicly associated with. If he were an employee, internal rules and policies apply. If necessary disciplinary sanctions, even dismissal, are considered.  But freelancers and sub-contractors  are different.

If your sub-contractor or freelancer starts trashing your brand where do you stand?

Do you have a written agreement with your freelancer?

Does it deal with this sort of thing?

What rights would you have as the person whose brand is under fire if this was going on around your business?

Please complete our survey on freelancers 

Please complete our anonymous survey on the types of freelancers you pay and help us research the issues around managing and contracting freelancers .  Click here to start the survey.   We are not collecting email addresses  – just doing research.  Click the link at the end of the survey and claim your copy of our Freelance Top Tips – will save you time and money.  Usually onlly available as part of packages costing £100 or more…


Leave a comment

Filed under discrimination, Freelance Workers

Is freelancing the way to bypass HR?

What is driving the rapid increase in taking on freelancers?  How easy is it to get it right?  Check out our article and let us know what you think.

Leave a comment

March 20, 2014 · 7:07 am

Which Are The Right Contract Options?

See on Scoop.itEmployment law in a mad world

Which Are The Right Contract Options? – Facilitated by Annabel Kaye, Director of Irenicon Ltd, Annabel keeps it clear, demystifies the jargon and keeps the focus on getting the best business res…

Annabel Kaye‘s insight:

Should be using zero hours contracts, freelancers, part timers, What kind of contract works best for you?  Join our free conversation (by phone) on 23 January 2pm (UK time) register for dial in details.

See on

Leave a comment

Filed under contract, Freelance Workers, zero hours

Top tips on hiring freelancers

So many people use freelancers or family members to help grow their business – but are you getting the best out of this arrangement?

Leave a comment

November 22, 2013 · 9:18 am

Using freelancers?

Using freelancers is not risk free

Using freelancers is not risk free

Are people working for you and submitting invoices (rather than being paid under PAYE)?

Getting people to invoice you, or giving them contracts that say they are self employed, does not mean they are.

HMRC and employment tribunals look at how the relationship is set up and managed – not just at the label you put on it.

Get the label wrong and you can be in for a nasty surprise.

  • HMRC can come to you and ask for the PAYE you should have been deducting (with penalties too).
  • Employment tribunals can decide you unfairly dismissed someone you didn’t even know you were employing!
Freelancers can be an appropriate part of your business model but they are not a ‘get out of jail free card’ when it comes to employment rights either.
We think of the people we pay as either employees or self employed.   But in the world of HMRC and Employment Tribunals there are three types:
  • Employees
  • Workers
  • Businesses

Some of the freelancers you pay will genuinely be categorised as businesses,  but not all.    The others will be workers, with a whole set of ‘employment’ rights to go with them.

If you are paying people by invoice you need to know how this really works so that you can make sure you don’t get any unexpected bills from the Revenue (or an Employment Tribunal) in a few years time.

Don’t think this doesn’t happen, it happens all the time.   Just as you start to get through those critical first few years and make a profit, you get a PAYE inspection and a bill for back tax.  You can’t go back and charge all those clients more (as your labour costs were too low) and that’s your expansion capital, that longed for holiday, gone.  Or worse, that’s the business gone!

For more information on which rights freelance workers have  (and which rights you don’t) click here.  Join us for a free KoffeeKlatch conversation on Managing Freelance Workers.

Explore how to predict what label will be applied and how to contract freelancers in an appropriate way – 10th October (2pm for an hour).  For more information click here.

Tweet out if you are joining us #KKfreelance.

To purchase a copy of our extensive guidance notes and freelance contracts click here.

To receive a fortnightly update when new dates are posted for all our free KoffeeKlatch conversations click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under contract, employment law, Freelance Workers

The Freelance culture-putting up with a lot

shutterstock_29072275The recent report on the BBC – the Respect at Work review says freelancers are “excluded from various HR policies”.

We have been helping organisations manage their freelancers, and we know that many HR structures leave non-employees outside the normal remedies for bullying and harassment.

The law doesn’t.  The Equality Act applies to workers, not just employees – so drafting policies that apply only to employees leaves a big gap in your compliance system.

Freelance workers are the backbone of many creative organisations, and it is vital that they are properly contracted and managed.    The BBC is not alone in having more freelancers than employees.  But regardless of numbers, we all need to set up freelance structures in an appropriate way.

There are various individuals campaigning about bullying and harassment in the Arts.  The combination of short term funding, fragile tenure, and a ‘who knows who culture’ is fertile hunting ground for egotistical individuals to exploit young and attractive newcomers.  Temperamental management and tantrums are put down to ‘artistic temperament’, and this sets an example for junior supervisors.

It is chilling to see the report reveal criticism of HR on the grounds they are  “feeding the culture of fear about reporting” – (if true)  But it’s peculiar to see HR criticised by staff as ‘working for the management’ since HR is part of management!  Part of HR’s job would normally be to set up appropriate structures and arrangements for freelance workers and try to protect them from sexual harassment.    HR is not the employees’ voice on the board, nor their representative.

HR needs to make it plain that they are working for the management ― and to make sure they are doing so effectively.

The suggestion that some people accused of sexual harassmentwere protected and promoted is one we have come across in our own work.  Sometimes it is because the allegation (rightly or wrongly) is not believed, and there is no reason not to promote that individual.    We have also seen organisations who feel deeply in the power of their high producers – the million dollar salesperson, or the star.  Even though the organisation may know what is going on, it may feel too difficult to take the financial consequences of removing the individual.

HR should be working for the management and doing their job – creatingcontractual arrangements and structures that mean their organisation is not dependent on individuals in a disproportionate way (succession and contingency planning).

In many organisations HR is already doing this vital work, but in others HR is simply ‘not fit for purpose’ and is relying on a narrow interpretation of ‘best practice’ as a substitute for tackling the real issues in an organisation.

Many organisations are ‘mini-BBCs’ ― and it is truly troubling that some HR people made redundant from these outfits are taking this mindset into a new client base and promoting these policies and ways of working as normal or appropriate for growing entrepreneurial businesses to adopt.

We are working hard to improve the standards for freelance workers ― because that has positive spin-offs across the whole organisation.  We run regular free teleseminars on how to manage freelance workers.  Join the conversation and let’s hear your voice.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.
Tel: 08452 303050
Fax: 08452 303060
You can follow Annabel on Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under bullying at work, employment law, Freelance Workers

No sex in the cupboard



I once worked for an advertising agency who were well known for their parties.

Over indulgence of very kind ruled and occasionally some unfortunate incidents resulted.  Before ‘compliance’ changed office parties the spirit of the age was entirely different to today.  Many people have a happy lack of memory of those times.

At a particularly enthusiastic party, a bright young account executive was caught in a coat cupboard with the wife of the MD of a very large account (people were not people to the Madmen – they were accounts).   Red faces ensued and an upset ‘Account’ removed a large amount of revenue.  Smart phones did not exist – so no photos were circulated of the entangled pair.

Next day our MD came to me and asked me to amend the company handbook so that it included a rule forbidding staff to have sex in coat cupboards with clients wives.  It took me some while to persuade him that this rule was too narrowly drawn – since it permitted sex in other locations, with other people who arrived with clients, and would give a rather odd impression to new recruits.

Since then I have reviewed countless contracts and staff handbooks and they often contain the strangest rules forbidding things that most of us would not think of doing at work.  Some of the strangest include “Do not set fire to your bible in the toilet”  and  “All emails must be copied to the MD”.

Policies and handbooks get longer as more things are forbidden.   Following some would even prevent work of any kind being done.  I once worked for a retail organisation who forbad staff to remain on the premises unaccompanied.  This worked fine when they owned only large stores but ran into a wall when they bought a chain of small stores, since having one member of staff off sick meant the store had to be closed to comply with the rule!.

This is typical ‘black hat’ thinking It’s no wonder that more than 60% of Which? readers said they had never read their contract.

“I never read mine I just threw it in a drawer”

“You only read them when things go wrong”.

Many new clients tell us they have issued contracts they don’t understand (or even don’t agree with) as they felt they had no control over what their contract said.

If all this sounds like a colossal waste of time and trees to you – you are right.

I heard a colleague talking to a client recently about drafting documents that documented success and not failure.  It set me thinking about how we are under using a fabulous tool in the employment relationship.

I recently attended a meeting of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA)  in London  and heard a wonderful talk by Richard Tyler Lake.  He talked about being a possibility architect.  The phrase really struck home with me.

What if we could make the ‘compliance’ side of contracts part of the structure for creating possibilities at work – instead of part of the structure of banning things?

We could have:

  • tent poles and tents for the organisations constantly on the go to wrap their canvas over when they need to hunker down.
  • prefabricated and customisable modern structures for people who are on a budget
  • individually designed open spaces with great views and flow for those who want to build change into the heart of their organisation

With that inspiring through in mind and a whole load of new tent poles and prefabs to make (and a few unique masterpieces to  finalise) I am dancing my way towards a new generation of paperwork that is not just a waste of perfectly good trees or something to prop the office door open with.

For tentpoles and canvas for freelancers click here

For prefabs and modern structures for employees click here

For individual designs or a free evaluation of your existing contract talk to us on 08452 303050

1 Comment

Filed under contract, Freelance Workers