Freelance

Freelance journalism is no longer an “atypical” form of work. In many countries the majority of journalists are freelancers. Many are journalists who would prefer traditional employment and have been forced into what we call “fake freelance” positions by employers who break local rules on employment by using freelances to fill full-time posts while avoiding state welfare and social charges.

Some appreciate the freedom, variety and flexibility of independent employment and feel it is increasingly the natural mode of work for journalists. The challenge of a freelance future is a test for journalists’ unions in Europe and around the world.

Contracts and fees, training, authors’ rights, and professional standards are all key issues for the freelance community of journalists. Innovative financing models, which can give freelance journalists new possibilities/niches in media, are being explored by the EFJ and its affiliates. The EFJ Freelance Expert Group recently organised a webinar on entrepreneurial journalism.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) Authors’ Rights Expert Group (AREG) and the Freelance Experts’ Group (FREG) strive to defend and to promote freelance rights. We say to our staff colleagues: in order to defend your rights and conditions of work, you can do nothing more effective than to promote the highest standards for freelances.

The Freelance Experts’ Group’s focus for the coming years’ is based on the EFJ’s working programme:

  • Relaunch the Charter of Freelance Rights and promote it at national and European level;
  • Continue to organise webinars on issues important to European freelances;
  • Organise training seminars, including on safety, if funding is available, with the help of EFJ secretariat and cooperate with the Rory Peck Trust ;
  • Collect information on business models and new ways on how freelance journalism is paid for;
  • Monitor EU legislation and advocate for protection of freelance working conditions and decent fees, the right to organise freelances in trade unions and the right to do collective bargaining including for freelances;
  • Support the EFJ Unfair contract campaign;
  • Consider recruitment of freelance journalists in all media as an important angle in all discussions (see EFJ project work);
  • Support journalists’ organisations in fighting for equal rights including accreditation throughout Europe, with a recent focus on Belarus (Get Freelancers into Law http://baj.by/en/node/25104)

Actions

European Court: holiday pay for freelancers and bogus self-employed

On 29 November 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of paid annual leave for self-employed and bogus self-employed workers. Now, anyone who has been bogus self-employed can demand additional payment for annual leave. Article 7 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 4 November, 2003, provides 4 weeks of paid annual leave for every worker, and the European Court has said that this must not be thwarted by employers. The case came to the European Court after a British case in which Mr King, retiring after 13 years of employment, sought to recover payment…

Study recommends EU action to protect atypical workers

A recent study explored ‘Temporary contracts, precarious employment, employees’ fundamental rights and EU employment law‘, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions. The findings have implications for journalists, as atypical and precarious employment has been tied to media industries and digitisation. The study emphasises that precarious employment is a fundamental rights issue of enormous weight and significance within the EU’s normative order. Some groups, such as women and younger workers, are more affected by precarious employment. Self-employment, which affects many freelancers and journalists, is discussed in…

Contracts and collective bargaining for all: “Social Europe”

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), along with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and other European trade union organisations, submitted on 6 November its position on the 2nd phase consultation on the revision of the Written Statement Directive (931/55/EC) trying to extend the right for a written contract and social protection to self-employed workers. The EFJ, along with the ETUC, request in their response that Member States should ensure that all workers (including self-employed workers) have the right to fair remuneration in accordance with national law, collective agreements or practice at the appropriate level in conformity with national industrial…

Studies find precarious employment tied to digitalisation and the gig economy

The grey area between employment and self-employment, symptomatic in the media sector, has been highlighted by two recent studies focusing on online work and the “gig economy”. The separate 2017 studies, one by Eurofound (the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) and the other by Heyes and Hastings from the University of Sheffield, suggest a precarious status of employment for ever more workers. This precarity is tied to digitalisation and the “gig economy”. The study by Eurofound focuses on digital platform work. The most reliable estimate of this type of work among European Union member states is from the United Kingdom, where…

Today is the World Day for Decent Work!

Today is the World Day for Decent Work! A new survey from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) shows that unions have helped winning higher pay, saving jobs and securing new collective agreements over the past twelve months. The survey of 60 IFJ affiliates from every continent – released to coincide with World Day for Decent Work – shows that attacks on collective bargaining, low pay and a lack of rights for freelances are threatening to further undermine working conditions for journalists across the globe. A significant majority of unions surveyed highlighted a lack of collective bargaining, a lack of…

Ireland: Unions celebrate victory over competition authority

Irish freelance workers will be allowed the right to collective bargaining. On the evening of 31 May, the Irish Parliament adopted the Labour Party proposed Competition Amendment Bill 2016, which aims to introduce exemptions from competition law for certain self-employed workers. Since a competition ruling was handed down thirteen years ago, agreements  negotiated with  artists unions on minimum tariffs  have been considered as breaches of competition  law. To avoid the competition law a union has to prove either that its members are false independent workers (in a subordinate relationship, obliged to follow instructions,  do not share the same business risks…