It appears that workers who don’t fit the traditional role of ‘employees’ are once again overlooked by the government.
On March 12th, 2020 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a multi-billion dollar stimulus package to address the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) – which totally ignores freelancers and sole traders with no employees.
This oversight is frightening considering small businesses account for nearly 98% of all Australian businesses, with the majority (62%) being sole traders with no employees.
As pointed out by Rebekah Lambert in her petition to the federal government, in the stimulus package designed to keep small businesses and other Australians safe, this group receives no support.
The times are tough for freelancers too
Freelancers and sole traders – who work in 120+ different vocations – were already seeing impacts to their businesses due to the bushfire crisis. In addition to this, the effects of cash flow problems due to late paying and low paying clients, were already weighing heavy.
And now that contracts and projects are being cancelled, delayed, or put on indefinite hiatus, this group is staring down the barrel of absolute devastation to their livelihood.
“I had a client who had already cut the number of hours she was using me in half because she couldn’t get stock from China, then yesterday I learnt that as of next week it will be dropped completely. So now, because my income has dropped, I’ve had to pull my daughter out of childcare as I can’t afford to send her and my mental health is starting to suffer from the stress.” said Diandra, a Virtual Assistant.
“My new bookings are drying up and the existing ones are being cancelled. I’m trying the best I can to pivot but I may end up on welfare. And it’s not just me, there’s also a lot of other contractors that I normally pass work onto who will struggle if I’m no longer generating work myself” said Sophie, a freelance photographer.
As a super fund focused exclusively on self-employed people, we feel it’s our duty to help spread awareness about this serious issue and to call on the state and federal governments to act now before this diverse and talented industry sector collapses.
“With the massive COVID-19 cloud of uncertainty hanging over us, businesses and consumers are trying to avoid any expenses that aren’t associated with just getting through the next 6 months, so it’s absolute carnage out there for freelancers” said Peter Stanhope from GigSuper.
“If the government is considering a second round of stimulus they need to make sure the ~760,000 freelancers and sole traders with no employees get something this time around. Not only is this sector exposed to a short-term shock like this because they often offer services that can be cancelled at short notice, they also don’t have holiday pay or other safety nets they can fall back on,” said Rebekah Lambert who runs a freelance community group, Freelance Jungle.
Just because this group of innovators doesn’t fit the usual ‘employer-employee’ business structure, it doesn’t mean they don’t need the stimulus. Let’s help keep the economy going by supporting their needs, too.