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

WPFD : Statement of solidarity with prosecuted Belarusian journalists

On the eve of the World Press Freedom Day 2018 (WPFD), the European Federation of Journalists expresses its solidarity with prosecuted journalists in Belarus. Unfortunately, the working conditions for journalists in Belarus cannot be regarded as free at all nowadays. Since 2015, the Belarusian official authorities have started a repression campaign against freelance journalists, who cooperate with foreign media. As a result of this campaign, the Belarusian journalists were fined 69 times for the alleged illegal production of mass media products in 2017. The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), which is a local member of EFJ, has always considered the…

Exploitation of freelance journalists is a threat to our democracy

By Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists The gap between the incomes of the diminishing number of journalists with stable contracts and the growing band of freelances in Europe is getting bigger. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Freelance Expert Group (FREG) are appalled by this worsening situation. Such unfair pay practices cannot continue, since an increasing proportion of editorial content is written and produced by freelance journalists. This has an impact on the quality of journalism and, in the end, on democracy itself. That is why the EFJ has been supporting the ETUC’s PayRise…

Council of Europe Culture Committee asks governments to strenghten the status of journalists

The Culture Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has adopted a draft resolution asking European governments to do more to protect media professionals, revising laws if necessary, as they state that media freedom is a “key prerequisite for the existence and development of a democratic society”. At a meeting in Bucharest on 4 December 2017, PACE Committee recognised the precarious nature of the current journalism profession, and the threats to journalistic values and freedoms. In response, PACE Committee unanimously adopted the draft resolution, asking governments of member states to assume their obligation to protect media professionals, to…

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…