For anybody who works in an office and is stressed out by the 9-to-5 constraint, the idea of embracing a freelancing career is the most appealing thought. You probably picture yourself waking up refreshed and relaxed and preparing a healthy breakfast with the kids before heading to your home office, an unused bedroom you’ve redecorated to create the perfect working environment. At lunchtime, you’ve got time to pop out for lunch with your best friends and gossip about the latest news in town before heading back to pick up the kids from school. You can even squeeze in a couple of hours before dinner while your oldest is doing her homework and the younger one is playing peacefully in the lounge.
But, this ideal representation of freelancing is miles away from reality. For a start, you’re likely to work longer hours than you would in an office. Additionally, you’ll be anxious about making ends meet; there’s no income guarantee when you work for yourself. And more importantly, you can’t call in for a sneaky sick day to laze out all day on the sofa. Sick days, as it happens, are the nightmare of all freelancing parents!
You still work, even when your kid is ill
When you work in an office, your employer understands that you might need to take time off to look after your child. Illnesses and infections are prevalent during the first years of life, and it’s fair to say that you might find it difficult to work a full week during this time. When you’re your own boss, your client is a lot less understanding about time off. Ultimately, if you can’t make it because you need to deal with a case of gastroenteritis at home, you can’t call in for a sick day. Deadlines tend to be a lot stricter in the freelancing world. Additionally, you don’t have the same rights than an employee; consequently, you are at risk of losing your contract if you can’t deliver on time.
When sickness prevents you from working, you’re not paid
When sickness affects freelancers, taking a day off means that you won’t receive payment for the day. When you’re working on a tight budget, a simple cold could put your income at risk. What if it isn’t a simple cold, you ask. In the case of something serious happening, an employer can support you by letting you take the time you need to recover. There are even additional financial measures a business can take to protect an employee and their family while enjoying tax benefits – if you’re wondering how companies can save money here is the answer. But for freelancers, the only option is to take income protection cover, so that you can maintain your lifestyle when you’re incapacitated.
You have no health perks either
Finally, with more and more companies offering health perks such as in-site doctors, it makes no doubt that freelancers can’t compete. A freelancer has no health advantage, and unless they can afford private health insurance, many need to juggle between health appointments and work!
The bottom is that, while being a freelancer could be the right decision for you, you need to be aware of the health implications. With no professional support, HR policies and health perks to help you, managing health issues on a zero-hour contract can be a costly process.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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