In this post, writer Hannah Emery shares some important points to consider for becoming self-employed with a long-term health condition. If you’re seeking meaningful work, sign up with Astriid today!
Deciding to become self-employed instead of following the traditional employment route can feel like a leap into the unknown. However, more and more people are choosing to work for themselves, with the number of people who are self-employed in the UK steadily rising to around 4.2 million in June 2021. It can be a route that some people with a long-term health condition find especially suits their needs, although there are many considerations that need to be thought through to decide if this is the right path for you.
Positives of Self-Employment
- Flexibility – working for yourself means that you have the flexibility of time. This can be a huge advantage for those with a chronic condition as you can set the number of hours you feel able to work for and when you work them.
- Working from home – being able to work remotely takes away the need to travel into a physical workplace, takes away any accessibility issues that may arise from being in a workplace and generally saves both time and energy. If you require a rest during the day, this is much easier to do at home!
- Be your own boss – when you are self-employed you are in control of the work that you do, there is no-one looking over your shoulder and it means you have greater control. If you find your condition varies throughout the day or week, this means that you can choose to do less taxing work when your concentration or fatigue levels are worse, and schedule to do more complex work at a time when you feel energised and alert.
- Work the hours that suit you – a big bonus of being self-employed is not being constricted to working the hours scheduled by your workplace. This allows you to work when you are able, even if that is early morning, evening, or at the weekend. Having this ability to work when you can takes away some of the pressure of having to deliver work on specified times. It means that you can listen to your body when you are not well enough to work and not worry about calling in sick.
- Choose who you work with – the companies or individuals that you choose to do work with are your clients, not employers. You can decide if you want to disclose your health condition to them or not and if for some reason you don’t gel with them then there is no need to work with them again!
Points to consider
- Responsibility – being self-employed means that you must take responsibility for your business. This includes filling out a tax form each year (even if you are working very few hours and don’t earn enough to have to pay tax) and may involve paying national insurance contributions. You may have decisions to make around taking out various insurance policies such as public liability insurance or professional indemnity insurance, depending on the type of work you are doing.
- Employee rights – the rights that you get as an employee working for a business, such as paid sick leave, holidays, pension contributions and maternity/paternity leave no longer apply if you are self-employed. There are various insurance policies that can be taken out such as income protection that cover you in case of injury or sickness, however this is an added expense to think about; especially if you are only able to work limited hours.
- Isolation – if you choose to work independently, ot work mostly from home, it may feel quite isolating and you may find yourself missing the social contact that being in a workplace brings. However, this can be overcome by finding coworking office spaces, as well as growing communities of other self-employed people, including those with chronic conditions, to connect with.
- Establishing your business – when working for yourself, it is up to you to build your client base and make sure that you have enough work coming in to make the business financially viable. Depending on the type of work you do, the amount of income received is likely to vary throughout the year. Some people with long-term conditions can struggle with self-doubt and a lack of confidence in their ability, so the prospect of finding clients and putting themselves out there may feel quite daunting.
- Managing your workload with a fluctuating condition – it may be difficult to establish how much work you can take on if you do not know how well you will be on any given day. Starting small and working comfortably within your capabilities to begin with, may be a sensible way to navigate this.
Deciding whether to become self-employed is a decision that must feel right and achievable for the individual. It can be an attractive option for those with chronic conditions especially when only looking for very part-time hours, as this type of work can be difficult to find when looking at traditional employment. There are a lot of factors to consider and research, but if you feel that self-employment could work for you, it offers the flexibility and freedom that many people with chronic conditions require to find meaningful work.
If you’re seeking new opportunities or on the path to becoming work-ready, sign up with Astriid today!
(Article written by Hannah Emery)