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November 5, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:32am

Nine in ten freelance journalists missing out on holiday pay could be entitled to it, says union

By Freddy Mayhew

The National Union of Journalists is campaigning for freelance journalists to receive holiday pay, to which they may be legally entitled, after a survey of its members found nearly nine in ten do not.

UK workers are entitled to at least 28 days of paid leave a year, for someone working five days a week, but journalists on “casual” or “self-employed” contracts are often missing out, the union has said.

This is despite them working in a way that might them “worker” status under the law and so an entitlement to holiday pay.

The NUJ is campaigning for freelances to demand their rights after a survey of its freelance members found that 88 per cent did not receive holiday pay.

The union said media workers could be entitled to holiday pay if:

  • They do most of their work for one organisation (and could still be eligible if they work for more than one organisation)
  • They work under any contract (does not have to be in writing)
  • They do shifts in a workplace
  • Someone else controls their work, when and how they do it.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The proportion of freelances in our industry is greater than at any time, and many are denied holiday pay to which they are legally entitled.

“In court, the NUJ has secured holiday pay for numerous casuals and other regular freelances. We will continue to pursue such cases when they arise.

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“More than 80 years after workers won the right to holiday pay, how much better it would be if media companies accepted their responsibilities and gave those who diligently apply their talents the paid rest they deserve.”

The union said it has “successfully disputed” standard contracts that state an individual is self-employed, or an independent contractor.

NUJ freelance member David Walsh was awarded more than £8,000 based on his right to holiday pay in a recent tribunal win for the union against Scotsman Publications Ltd.

The tribunal ruled that while he was identified as self-employed in his contract, the reality of the working relationship was different and he met the legal definition of a “worker”, entitling him to holiday pay.

Picture: Pixabay

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