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26% of SMEs have taken on freelancers in the last year

Wednesday 17th May, 2017
Limited Company
Just over one-quarter (26 per cent) of the UK's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have taken on at least one freelancer over the past 12 months, a new report reveals.

The latest edition of the Zurich SME Risk Index shows that the use of gig economy workers is increasing among British businesses, with this term referring to individuals who are working on more than one short-term contract or freelance assignment at a time.

Almost three-quarters of survey respondents said they liked using freelancers to fill talent gaps at their company because of their flexible nature, which they believe to be advantageous to their overall profitability.

In addition, more than one-third (38 per cent) of SMEs believe that taking on these kinds of freelancers allows them to manage their workforce in a better way, making their company more efficient.

For ten per cent of SMEs, contractors and freelancers account for as much as 90 per cent of their total workforce, while for 41 per cent of small businesses, the proportion of their overall headcount that is employed on a freelance basis is at least one-quarter.

Some controversy surrounds gig economy workers, as some believe that they are exploited by companies, but a review on this is set to be published in the coming weeks.

However, 58 per cent of those questioned for the Zurich Index said they thought this style of working provided more flexibility for workers, while 34 per cent believe that it brings new opportunities to people.

If companies eventually decide against employing gig economy workers as a result of the controversy surrounding this way of working, but still want to retain the flexibility of freelancers, taking on limited company contractors could be another option.

Paul Tombs, Head of SME Proposition at Zurich, commented: "Self-employment is on the rise and demonstrates an increasing demand for flexible work which is beginning to shape the way that businesses think about workforce management."

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