Your rights as a worker

SOMETIMES a freelance works as a pure entrepreneur - licensing a photo or an article to a publication, working from home or in the field. Sometimes we go into publications' offices - to do a day's picture editing or sub-editing for example. Sometimes we have regular gigs that involve going into an office on set days each week - often for years on end, often without a written contract.

And, too often, the bean-counters look at the gross profit margins and yell "fire all the freelances" - thereby demonstrating their lack of understanding of the relevant law. Usually they hire many people back when reality hits. But when such a long-term arrangement is terminated, it can feel devastating. But you may get some financial relief.

There is no either-or distinction between being "freelance" and "employed". EU law has moved toward dealing with the rights of "workers" - even for those who have contracts that claim to define them as "not employed". As a "worker" you may be entitled to holiday pay pro rata for a single shift - see page 1. If you work very regularly for one client you may be entitled to compensation if they drop you.

The Freelance knows of a member who got a four-figure sum after the NUJ Freelance Office sent a one-line email asking about the consultation procedure that was followed when their post was made redundant. There had been none.

Courts and tribunals decide on a case-by-case basis. See the Freelance Fees Guide here for detail, and if you're an NUJ member contact freelanceoffice@nuj.org.uk if in doubt.