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Going Solo: The Rise in Self-Employment

Tell us, with all of this in mind, would you ever consider going solo, or is the certainty of standard employment better suited to your long-term goals?

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A woman looks at job advertisements on a wall in Qingdao West Coast New Zone in Shandong province, China, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

According to statistics, the number of self-employed workers in the UK has been consistently on the rise since 2001. Although it may seem like those who work for themselves account for only a small proportion of the workforce, the numbers tell a different story, with around 15 percent of people now acting as their own bosses.   

Young people, in particular, are increasingly keen to work for themselves, with the tally of self-employed individuals between 16 and 24 having almost doubled in the past 18 years. 

So, why exactly is it that more and more of us are choosing to take the leap and go it alone? 

A desire for flexible working hours and greater control

The Office for National Statistics recently published some revealing figures, detailing how the number of self-employed workers in the UK has risen from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017 – an admittedly huge leap.  

This shows how self-employment has increased rapidly in the space of less than two decades, leaving many to question what it is that’s driving the pattern. 

The largest number of self-employed workers are aged between 45 and 54, but rapid increases in the number of individuals working for themselves have also been seen amongst both younger and older demographics, suggesting that this trend has been catalysed by external factors affecting us all.  

Self Employment
The ever-growing number of self-employed workers has forced the issue of protection for such individuals into the spotlight in recent months, with many claiming the current framework is not adequate. Pixabay

Indeed, much of this growth came in the wake of the recession, when jobs were more difficult to come by. Many posit that some of these workers, at least initially, had no choice but to work for themselves, as unemployment was their only other alternative. 

The rise in self-employment has certainly helped to boost job growth overall, with the unemployment rate in the UK currently at its lowest level since 1975.

Think tanks like the Resolution Foundation also suggest that a desire for flexible working may have had a part to play, particularly for those looking to circumvent the ‘long hours working culture’ that is so prevalent amongst UK businesses.  

An overhaul in employment rights imminent

The ever-growing number of self-employed workers has forced the issue of protection for such individuals into the spotlight in recent months, with many claiming the current framework is not adequate.  

Whilst there are many boons to working for oneself, in terms of the freedom and flexibility it offers, there are also some major downsides, including a dearth of holiday or sick pay, and significantly lower average earnings, especially for women.  

In fact, very few protections exist in general. Self-employed workers are expected to take full responsibility for the successes and failures of their enterprise and the scope of their earnings. Their responsibilities extend to, for example, taking out appropriate cover, no matter how niche, with insurance providers having to step into the breach the government leaves open. 

Self Employment
Tell us, with all of this in mind, would you ever consider going solo, or is the certainty of standard employment better suited to your long-term goals? Pixabay

This means, for instance, that handyman liability insurance, which protects the long-term future of business operations in this industry, is left to offer essential and much-needed protection to those working within the sphere on a self-employed basis.   

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This has led to government proposals to thoroughly overhaul employment rights, though it is not yet clear how far such changes might go in providing blanket protection, compared to protection which is focused only on certain groups, such as those working in the gig economy.      

Tell us, with all of this in mind, would you ever consider going solo, or is the certainty of standard employment better suited to your long-term goals?

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Suicide Rates Increasing Among Self-Employed Than Unemployed

More self-employed committing suicides than unemployed

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Self-Employed suicide
More self-employed people are committing suicide every day than the unemployed. Lifetime Stock

It may appear strange but more self-employed people are committing suicide every day than the unemployed. People with their own startups are likely to be depressed.

It may be a testimony to the bleak economic situation and the slump in various industries that an average of 36 self-employed people ended their lives every day as against a lesser number of 35 unemployed people.

While the government has been offering several categories of loans for the self-employed, the downturn in commercial activity in general, indebtedness and the stress of running a business may be taking a toll on the self-employed. Self-employed category accounted for 9.8 per cent of total suicide victims (13,149 out of 1,34,516).

Suicides by the self-employed and the unemployed in 2018, with the two categories together accounted for 26,085 deaths during the year, according to government data. The self employed figure of suicides at 13,149 is more than the suicides by the unemployed at 12,936.

Both the categories combined outnumbered the suicide figures of those working in the farming sector at 10,349 in 2018, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Self-Employed
The self employed figure of suicides at 13,149 is more than the suicides by the unemployed at 12,936. Lifetime Stock

“Each suicide is a personal tragedy that prematurely takes the life of an individual and has a continuing ripple effect, dramatically affecting the lives of families, friends and communities. Every year, more than 1 lakh people commit suicide in our country. There are various causes of suicides like professional/career problems, sense of isolation, abuse, violence, family problems, mental disorders, addiction to alcohol, financial loss, chronic pain etc,” says the NCRB adding it collects data on suicides from police recorded suicide cases.

A total of 1.34 lakh suicides were reported in the country during 2018, showing an increase of 3.6 per cent in comparison to 2017. The rate of suicides, which means deaths per one lakh population, also increased by 0.3 per cent during 2018 over 2017, the NCRB stated.

In a shocking revelation, one unemployed person committed suicide every hour during 2018. Of the total suicides, 92,114 male and 42,391 female, were reported in the country, NCRB’s data on “Suicide in India-2018” says.

The latest data, issued by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under Ministry of Home Affairs, reveals that a total of 12,936 unemployed persons committed suicide in 2018, which accounted for the 9.6 per cent of the total suicides, were of aged below 18 years to above 60 years.

Those below 18 years include 31 males and nine females while those between 18 and 30 years comprise 1,240 male and 180 female. A total of 868 male and 95 female were aged between 30 and 45 years. A number of 237 males and 21 females were aged between 45 and 60 years while 2,431 males and 310 females were above 60 years. Of the total suicides by unemployed persons, males are 10,687 while the females are 2,249.4

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Majority of 12.3 per cent suicides committed by unemployed persons were in Kerala (1,585 out of 12,936 suicides), 12.2 per cent in Tamil Nadu (1,579 suicides), 9.7 per cent in Maharashtra (1,260 suicides), 8.5 per cent in Karnataka (1,094 suicides) and 7 per cent in Uttar Pradesh (902 suicides). (IANS)