Working For Yourself An Instant Pay Rise For 1 in 4

13 February 2024

Around one in four people giving up full-time employed jobs to work as contractors and freelancers earned more in their first year than they did previously,  research* from Workwell and IPSE reveals.

On average, their earnings were more than £5,000 higher.

The study found that 25% of contractors, freelancers and small business owners earned more in their first year out of full-time employment, with 11% saying they earned significantly more.

The research found 26% earned around the same in their first year while 41% earned less. Around 8% preferred not to answer.

The research found that 41% of flexible workers say they are generally better off than they were as an employee but nearly half (44%) say it took more than a year to earn more than as an employee with 17% saying it took more than three years.

However, just one in six (16%) women reported that they earned more in their first year contracting or freelancing compared with 31% of men. Only 29% of women say they are generally better off than as an employee compared with 49% of men.

The study found 41% of respondents earned less in their first year of working for themselves with 26% saying they earned about the same as in employment. On average those who earned less were £4,500 worse off. In the longer term, 47% say they are generally earning less.

Chris Mollan, Head of Accountancy Services, said: “Leaving behind the security of a full-time employed job can be daunting and very few people will want to have to take a pay cut as a result.

“However, the research shows that many are better off within a year and that figure increases the longer they work for themselves. In general, there are roughly equal numbers better off or worse off as a result of working for themselves and of course, working for yourself has other advantages such as having greater flexibility over working hours. Many find working for themselves provides greater satisfaction.”

“It is vital to get the best possible advice and support when you move from being an employee to working as a contractor, freelancer or running your own business and Workwell can help with a range of services.”

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE said: “We know that people choose self-employment for overwhelmingly positive reasons, whether it’s to work more flexibly, follow a passion, or to be your own boss. That these individuals have been rewarded with an increase in their income for taking the brave decision to strike out on their own is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of this sector.

“Hopefully these findings will encourage more of those considering a switch from full-time employment to pursue their self-employed ambitions. A more flexible workforce is good news for both clients and the UK economy at a time when we’re crying out for skilled talent and expertise within our labour market.”

*Workwell commissioned independent research agency Viewsbank to interview 1,447 adults aged 18-plus between July 6th and 18th 2023 including 398 who are self-employed, freelancers or contractors

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