By Daniel Hunter
PCG, the membership association for freelancers, has responded to the news regarding the increase in zero hours contracts with a clear message to policy makers - when it comes to flexible working, tread carefully.
"PCG is in favour of flexibility. PCG is not in favour of exploitation. There is clearly real potential for zero hours working to fall on the wrong side of this fence and where this happens, action should be taken," Chris Bryce, CEO of PCG said.
"The risk is that in trying to protect vulnerable workers, policy makers inadvertently cut off access to legitimate freelancers, contractors and independent workers."
For Chris Bryce, the difference between those engaged on zero hours contracts and the growing number of people choosing to work independently to the mutual benefit of themselves and their clients is clear.
"As freelancers, we understand and accept the risks involved in our way of working and we are rewarded accordingly. It is not clear that those working on zero hours contracts have chosen that risk and in many cases it seems they have had it forced upon them," he said.
"Vulnerable workers should be protected but in doing so, the Government must not act in haste and introduce legislation which encompasses true freelancers."
According to Bryce, research conducted by PCG alongside a variety of independent academic bodies show the potential impact of introducing further red tape to Britain's smallest businesses.
"In 2009, research by Oxford Economics estimated that freelancers contribute 82 billion pounds to the UK economy on an annual basis. What's more, this number is growing by the year as more businesses wake up to the idea of risk free growth via project-based resource," said Bryce.
"The way we work is changing and British business is benefiting from this change. To group genuine independent professionals with vulnerable workers such as those on zero hour contracts would place a stranglehold on this growth. Tread carefully."
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