Flexible working and decent working terms and conditions

I do not think a company should be able to make employees declare they are self employed whilst they work more or less full time for a single employer. Such a device is just a way of avoiding some National Insurance, and cutting out sickness and holiday pay, pensions and other employee benefits. Nor do I like zero hours contracts which require someone to be always available when the employer chooses but not to have flexibility about when they choose to work. I do not like cheap skate employers nor employers who are only flexible for themselves when it comes to hours.

It is important, however, to recognise that there are plenty of flexible employment relationships that work well for both employer and employee.It is important as governments seek to regulate to prevent poor treatment of genuine employees they do not stifle innovation and flexibility in employment models that are  fine for both sides. I have recent cases and recent encounters with people working in flexible ways that reminds me some of these models are good in many ways. I have several complaints about the Inland Revenue trying to make people into employees when they are sure they are independent contractors.

Let’s take a couple of examples. A taxi driver told me he had recently qualified  in  digital technology whilst driving limited hours to pay his bills whilst studying. He wants to continue driving when it suits him, as he is now setting up his own tech business. He wants to be free to meet potential clients when they wish, and to develop the business when he needs to, whilst relying on the driving for a bit longer to pay the domestic bills. He is happy to be a self employed contractor, even if he often gets his taxi passengers from the same source. He does not want to be an employee for fear that then he would have to work when the employer told him to which could conflict with  his new business needs.  

A delivery rider for a pizza firm or food delivery business also wants to be self employed. He may usually get jobs from the same source, but wants to be free to ride for someone else if they have more to offer when he is available or if the rates change. He is paid by the deliveries effected, and does not have to turn up on days or at times when he has something better to do. This is another way people can  study, set up a business, undertake training or develop some new interest whilst being able to pay the bills. No-one makes them do this, and they have the choice to become  full time employees of a firm in a similar line of business.

Many of these models are success stories. Those running them have to negotiate with the Revenue over how far they can go in supporting and backing the drivers or riders before they are said to be their employer. The individuals concerned have to  be careful to take work from more than one, or to keep flexing the hours to show they are not in effect employees. What do you think the rules should say? How can we keep the flexibility this type of work allows, without  it becoming exploitative of relatively low paid people? Where it is a voluntary choice and other options are available,  why should the government try and stop it?


  1. Dominic
    September 23, 2019

    You’ll be running for Labour next

    1. Hope
      September 23, 2019

      Absolutely. Flexible working has created a night mare for people who want a full time jobs to provide for a household and for those public services wanting to provide 24/7 cover fairly to all shift workers. Turns out it places men at a severe disadvantage, but that does not matter.

      What business is it for the govt to intervene? Same for imposing pensions on small business that they cannot afford or a minimum wage when councils impose heavy business rates.

      What the TORY GOVT did promise was that no one in the public sector would be paid more than the PM, how did that turn out! Quangos were not cut but increased and the heads of each, normally former Labour MPs, getting a paid a fortune.

      Let us not forget it was Cameron and Osborne who appointed Odonis as their transport head, they wanted him in govt! Also Milburn appointed to social mobility! It was as if Cameron and Osborne did not want to get rid of Blaire’s socialist infestation of the public sector but to increase it. JR please explain.

      Today we hear on radio and read in the papers what an idiot Barwell was in his own words because the EU was allowed to sequence talks! I hope this is to deflect the truth that he just wanted to remain because his explanation makes him a total idiot that Mayhab has now made a Lord! Another unwanted nose at the trough that the public rejected at the ballot box. Social justice, fairness to all irrespective of background, she was going to change honour list after criticising Cameron’s exit etc, Etc ed

      JR, your party and govt are mistaking modernisation for following and shifting to socialist policies. Your party has nothing different to offer than New Labour!

    2. Hope
      September 23, 2019

      We read today in con woman today how our beloved overseas aid is wasted in China via the World Bank. Contributing £3.3 billion to one fund more than the US or France, Germany and Italy combined.

      Average World Bank salary Over £99,000 where no one, or govt. challenges why they are paid so much, what hours they work, full or part time or what they spend our taxes on! Flexible working in China JR? Minimum wage JR? Funding concentration camps for those who challenge Chinese authorities?

      Paid for by U.K. Taxpayers via idiotic Tory govt who virtue signals at home and hands our hard earned money hand over fist to underserving govts abroad who do not share our values, laws or culture so it can get a tick in the box that it has spent all our £15.1 billion overseas aid money! Plus an additional £3.7 billion to the EU equivalent of overseas aid where no one in this country gets a say what the taxpayers money is spent on. This is in addition to the £12 billion contribution fee JR highlighted the other day. £30 billion in total! Social care at home, you sell your home!

      JR, tell us about MPs unqualified part time job for £88,000 plus expenses, housing and employing spouses and family members without a selection procedure that is forced on the rest of businesses or organisations. Good grief selective blogs does not even go any way near the shame your govts has on its hands, not just at home, but world wide.

      You and your Tory govt is beyond help when it comes to these sort of issues. JR, Stop glossing over the full story.

      1. Derek Henry
        September 24, 2019

        UK tax payers do not pay a penny towards this.

        Hence there’s the rub how can we debate what we can achieve after a no deal brexit when most voters think we are still on the gold standard.

      2. a-tracy
        September 24, 2019

        Hope, you’ve got to admire John for sharing your blast.
        You’re cross, lots of people I know are cross, things are getting tense.

  2. Shirley
    September 23, 2019

    I have some knowledge in this sphere. Mostly the people I met were in IT, engineering, construction, HGV and van drivers. They are given one choice, form a company, become a contractor (and become liable to IR35) or the work will go to someone else.

    These people are NOT given a choice. I doubt the two examples above are limited companies, they will be self-employed, and therefore avoid IR35. That’s fine, but not for those forced into becoming a limited company.

    1. NickC
      September 23, 2019

      Shirley, When I contracted, I could be either limited company or employed by the agent. It was my choice. I think agents preferred ltd co status because it reduced the regulatory risks heaped on by Labour 1997-2010.

      I knew some government employees who were made redundant, but were then immediately re-employed full-time as “contractors” in their old jobs, simply so the government could say the head count had been reduced. That was a government cheat.

    2. tim
      September 23, 2019

      I agree, and pose this question. When British Gas comes to fit or mend your boiler or plumbing is the person self employed or employed by British gas?

  3. Mark B
    September 23, 2019

    Good morning.

    The first thing is, that these people are not forced to work as self employed, they choose to. There are many reasons, money being primary for some, but flexibility is also a major factor.

    The government sees problems with exploitation as an opportunity to legislate. May I say that if you want a better, fairer labour market you need to look at the demand and supply side. If demand for good people is there, they will be both better treated and paid. If not, they can just go somewhere else. Contract work offers this especially to those with skills that are in demand.

    The difference between a contract worker and someone in a permanent position is clear. The former supplies his skills on a strictly temporary basis for a set period of time and on a set task. After which, they may seek a new contract, either with another client or, if the current one has a new task, then a new contract with similar terms is negotiated. A permanent individuals contract extends to the entire life of their employment.

    The governments and especially the HMRC problem is that of tax and NI, which is another tax. They clearly, and understandably, see this as lost revenue. However, I argue that this is wrong. The money a self-employed person earns will be spent back into the economy. A self-employed person will, usually, spend that money far better than a large bureaucracy and government hungry for cash to spend making itself popular. A self-employed person will employ others and make others wealthy through their spending. The government, and HMRC, will recover monies via VAT and all the other associated taxes, eg. fuel, insurance, stamp duty etc. that are levied against us.

    The government need to get out of the way and let people work how they want to work, unlike them, we do not have index-linked, gold plated pensions and other benefits.

    Just saying 😉

    1. Mark B
      September 23, 2019

      Come on Sir John, this is getting silly. I was happy for it to be in moderation but, when you see people with multiple posts plus links and not on topic you have to question your motives.

  4. Anonymous
    September 23, 2019

    Most people would kill for a secure job with a regular and reliable wage, a pension and paid holidays.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      No job is really secure, look at Thomas Cook only today. The only fairly secure jobs are state sector ones and they are secure only because these people largely ride off the backs of private sector tax payers. They are in general hugely unproductive and inefficient but they can get away with it for this reason. Many of the things they do are pointless or even positively damaging. Also they are about 50% better remunerated when pensions are included.

      Hammond endlessly complained of poor UK productivity. But the main reason for this was his over taxation, over regulation, expensive energy, restrictive planning, uncompetitive banking and bloated size of the largely unproductive state sector hanging round their necks.

      1. JoolsB
        September 23, 2019

        Totally agree Lifelogic. Longer holidays, less hours with hours to suit themselves, more sick leave, higher pay , higher pensions courtesy of the taxpayer and still retiring earlier than us mugs paying for them. No politician has the guts to sort it because it applies to their nice little gravy train also.

      2. Lynn Atkinson
        September 23, 2019

        Spot on!

    2. Martin in Cardiff
      September 23, 2019

      You could have simply moved to France or Germany for those…oops.

      1. NickC
        September 23, 2019

        Martin, Please do . . . .

      2. libertarian
        September 23, 2019


        Yup well apart from the 9% unemployment in France .

    3. a-tracy
      September 23, 2019

      they don’t need to kill tell them to look on Indeed.co.uk or get along to a recruitment agency. If they haven’t got skills required then start night school or take a paid job with a training element.

      Search 260000 jobs in the UK on totaljobs their ad says.

    4. Fred H
      September 23, 2019

      Anon ….most people would kill? – – really?

  5. Martin in Cardiff
    September 23, 2019

    John, I support many of your words, but I’m sorry. It was your party’s policies which have enabled the erosion of pay and conditions in the UK.

    UK employment law is stacked against the employee. They are prevented from enforcing common-law contracts by its statutes, which effectively legalise the breach of those contracts by employers, subject to a few box-ticking “consultation” measures.

    Then there are the restrictions on access to tribunals and to funding for that, and some of the most draconian anti-trade union laws in the democratic world.

    Any ordinary working people, who are dissatisfied with their lot, but who ever voted Tory-tbp have only themselves to blame, then.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      “box-ticking “consultation” measures” – yet another waste of money and of peoples’s valuable time. Another distraction to productivity.

    2. NickC
      September 23, 2019

      Martin, But our employment law is one of your claimed “benefits” of the EU empire.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        September 23, 2019

        No, apart from Health and Safety it is an entirely sovereign, national matter, like by far and away most UK law.

        That is why it compares so badly with certain other European Union countries, particularly over occupational pensions.

        1. libertarian
          September 23, 2019


          No it doesn’t and pensions are NOTHING to do with employment law. We have two forms of government pension in the UK NI and Workplace pensions. You are also free to take out your own pension , its tax free too

          The UK FULLY implemented ALL EU workplace legislation

          1. Martin in Cardiff
            September 24, 2019

            Oh dear.

            If a company pension is part of your contract, then closing it would normally be breach of contract.

            However, UK statute legalises this, subject to a few box-tickings.

            Please state any European Union law which regulates workplace practice or contracts, other than Health and Safety.

            Search is free.

          2. a-tracy
            September 24, 2019

            Martin eu law which regulates workplace practice or contracts: (I have advised you this before)
            The working time directive,
            The gdpr regulations,

        2. Edward2
          September 23, 2019

          Odd comment martin, because the EU have played catch up with the UK Health and Safety legislation.
          Our first law on this was 1974.
          We still have fabulous pensions in the public sector.
          Sadly Labour wrecked private pensions with various tax attacks.

          1. Martin in Cardiff
            September 24, 2019

            Labour’s minimal tax on dividends affects funded public and private pension funds equally.

            The Tories have never reversed it.

            Did you make stuff up in your school exams too?

          2. a-tracy
            September 24, 2019

            Well Martin I think it’s maybe because private sector pension holders didn’t have tax and rate payers funding to top their falling pension funds up, our council put half a million a few years ago when they made poor investment decisions in Iceland.

          3. Edward2
            September 25, 2019

            The public sector just increased funding using tax payers money.
            The private sector, in the real world, companies found the huge increase needed impossible to afford.
            Your cheap sarcasm is typical of lefty remainers for whom the statement, never a comment without an insult always applies.

    3. a-tracy
      September 23, 2019

      Erosion of pay and conditions! What on Earth are you talking about Martin? Holiday pay, days and terms – they now include overtime from the previous quarter averaged out has increased (including for zero-hours workers) determined by a court ruling brought about by British unions;
      The hourly rate has increased through NMW, NLW (including zero-hours workers);
      Maternity and Paternity benefits have increased under the Tories;
      The Tories brought in Age discrimination legislation, more people than ever are chosing to work above their retirement age and companies are still creating new vacancies;
      People earn more because the personal allowance increased significantly;
      Hours have reduced because of the Working Time Directive but pay hasn’t eroded by the same % as the hours of dropped. Hours aren’t monitored properly by the ONS and British government so productivity figures are guestimates rather than accurate and the % of self-employed undeclaring their hours of work also affects statistics.
      If you are in PAYE work in the UK you are better off with the increases I’ve discussed above and with a 3% Nest contributions made on your behalf and 13.8% employer’s national insurance contributions to your State pension and healthcare.

    4. Anonymous
      September 23, 2019

      Laws as such because our trade unionists tend to use their power politically rather than restricting themselves to their own sphere.

      What has messed things up for workers is a surfeit of people prepared to work for less and an education system which turns them out useless for the prevailing jobs market.

      More apprenticeships, fewer degrees are needed.

    5. tim
      September 23, 2019

      Martin – I almost totally agree, excellent piece.

    6. Edward2
      September 23, 2019

      You never replied to my simple question Martin.
      Are you in favour of secret ballots before strikes can be called?

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        September 23, 2019

        Yes, if free from unreasonable, vexatious requirements for super majorities, notice periods, etc.

        1. Edward2
          September 23, 2019

          So a sort of yes but….
          You want a secret ballot but with no minimum level majority and a ballot that can be held within just a few days giving little time for any proper majority.
          Usually where the votes are not counted by independent scrutineers, in an obscure place, at a time when most are not available and then the result is announced as an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action.
          All together now….,I’m a Union man.

  6. Nig l
    September 23, 2019

    Regrettably this us an area where political philosophy overrides common sense and the wishes of the people it seeks to protect, we are now seeing it with Labours policy on schools dumbing down to allow its paymasters, the unions, to run education for their benefit not the pupils.

    As for employment more regulation and cost will mean less take up pushing people into the arms of the State, the objective of the Left to make people beholden to them. Tellingly the smoke and noise being created over this is not coming from the very people it claims to protect, in fact in disruption areas like taxi services, holiday rentals, on line delivery etc, the very opposite,

    Whatever the contract a minimum rate plus compliance with H and S etc has to be a given to prevent abuse. Apart from that the market will succeed with people moving ‘off the grid/into the ‘black’ economy if pushed too far.

  7. Andy
    September 23, 2019

    Just think of all those poor Thomas Cook workers who will now have to deliver pizzas and driver taxis.

    Their 150 year old company killed by your Brexit.

    Still at least you are all happy for them to have no employment rights.

    Reply More absurd nonsense. Thomas Cook needed a refinancing in 2011 and 2013, long before we voted to leave the EU, and needed another now whilst we are still in the EU.

    1. Woody
      September 23, 2019

      Thomas Cook has been destroyed by poor management. Please try and remember, we haven’t left yet.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      Killed by Brexit! What complete and utter drivel – you sound like the BBC – where everything is blamed on either Trump, Farage, Boris, Brexit, the far right or Climate Change or all of these.

      Anyway they will get their redundancy payments and new companies will replace them and provide new jobs for most of their staff. The same number of holidays will still be wanted by the customers.

    3. JoolsB
      September 23, 2019

      John, what I don’t understand is why the taxpayer is picking up the tab for the repatriation of the stranded holiday makers. Surely it should be RBS especially as they are now starting to pay out dividends again to their shareholders. Surely their first duty is to start paying back the billions they owe to the taxpayer. They are treating the taxpayer like mugs and your Government is letting them.

    4. The PrangWizard
      September 23, 2019

      Reply to Reply.

      This absolute nonsense and lies will continue after we leave too. Every unlucky break, misfortune or bad judgement will be blamed on Brexit for years to come. Easy target, no evidence, no proof.

    5. Roy Grainger
      September 23, 2019

      Andy, when you jet off to Tuscany do you go into a Tomas Cook branch on the High Street to book it, or do you book it on-line ? You are the problem, not Brexit (which hadn’t happened yet anyway).

    6. Derek Henry
      September 23, 2019

      If there was a job guarantee in place set at a living wage those Thomas Cook workers would start work again Monday morning.

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        Is that with the desire from their customers or without.

    7. Denis Cooper
      September 23, 2019

      I only have to look up my comment from January filed as:

      “Andy needs to get a sense of perspective”

      in reply to his similarly facile comment starting:

      “Nice spin. Unemployment went up by 8,000.

      8,000 people facing problems paying for their homes and food because of Tory Brexit … ”


      “Andy needs to get a sense of perspective.


      “… the number of people in employment continued to rise following an increase of 141,000 to a record high of 32.54 million in the three months to November.”

      8000 divided by 32.54 million = ?

      Come on, Andy, do the sum … maybe I have to help you, it comes to 0.02%.

      And does Andy have any idea about the rate of “churn” in the jobs market?


      “In total, therefore, around 5.2 million jobs in the UK economy were either created or destroyed each year between 1998 and 2008 …”

      That would have been about 14,000 a day, so Andy’s 8000 would be equivalent to the natural churn over about 14 hours.”

      Or for the 9,000 Thomas Cook workers in the UK, about 15 hours.

    8. Fedupsoutherner
      September 23, 2019

      Andy, your posts are more fantasy than fact. Thomas Cook has been in trouble for a long time now. I have not met anyone who has been put off travelling because of Brexit. I don’t go abroad very often but I’ve booked a holiday to Croatia this year and Brexit didn’t concern me at all and I don’t think you’ll find anyone else was worried. You really are a sad person and if we all thought like you did this country would get nowhere. No wonder with the remainiacs in charge of Brexit it is such a mess.

    9. sm
      September 23, 2019

      Thomas Cook’s failure is related to Brexit in what way? There have been major financing issues in the company – which is owned by Germans and Chinese by the way – for some years, whilst senior executives have received £millions in bonuses.

    10. Leaver
      September 23, 2019

      I have to agree with John on this.

      Thomas Cook was nailed by booking.com.

      This has been a long story which predates Brexit.

      I also think he is right that zero-hours contracts and flexible working are complex issues, which involve balancing the needs of employers, workers and people who want to work flexibly – such as single parents and carers. Just banning them risks discriminating against single parents and carers, which I don’t agree with at all. It seems to me that different jobs require different contracts, but that full-time workers need their rights protected.

    11. ian wragg
      September 23, 2019

      I agree John, but you must admit it’s another example of government stupidity when 9000 people will lose their jobs and the cost of repatriation exceeds the amount required to keep them afloat.
      If it was a bank it would be a different story.
      I suppose you can hide under some EU directive forbidding state aid which never seems to affect other countries.

      Reply The government thought a rescue of the comnpany would be dearer.

      1. graham1946
        September 23, 2019

        reply to reply

        I suppose as usual the govt. just takes a single look at costs, repatriation, 100 million, loan 200 million assuming a total loss. What about the redundancy payments, (paid by govt if the company has no money left and you can be sure by the time the liquidators have finished it will have none), dole payments, loss of income tax and NIC’s from the employees. These should surely be factored in. The rescue should have been a loan, not a gift and on the basis that a restructuring took place, ie closing most of their empty shops for instance, big cuts in management costs etc. They seem to have plenty of customers as evidenced by having to rescue 150,000 people.

      2. tim
        September 23, 2019

        ian wragg–YEA I seem to remember Government giving about £400,000,000,000 to bale out some Banks {MPs being directors}. Then the banks continuing to loose Billlions but continuing to pay massive bonuses, paid by the tax payer. Then when they bacame proffitable selling/giving them away to the rich, would not allow the poor to buy shares. Seems to be a common thread here.

        1. miami.mode
          September 23, 2019

          Never forget, tim, that the two main losers among the banks were Scottish and we had a Scottish prime minister.

    12. Ian!
      September 23, 2019

      What has a company, Thomas Cook formed in 2007 and that has been failing since then being completely on the ropes since 2010 while at the same time paying inept senior management some £20 million in bonuses got to do with Brexit?

      The 150 year old company was killed off in 2007.

    13. NickC
      September 23, 2019

      Andy, Was it you or Martin (or both) who sneered at the Leave view that EU carmakers would put pressure on the eurocrats? I presume you have seen the news of just that – the EU car bosses are panicking.

      1. Martin in Cardiff
        September 23, 2019

        I certainly did not sneer at the heads of BMW and VW, who said quite emphatically, that protecting the integrity of the European Union’s single market etc. was more important than their medium-term commercial prospects re UK exit.

        The senior figures in the European Union’s institutions take their brief from the Council of the twenty-eight leaders, not from business interests anyway, even if your claim were true.

        Whatever, you seem boastful of the problems that your actions have perhaps caused for a great many people, which is rather telling if you ask me.

        1. Edward2
          September 23, 2019

          Perhaps Martin, you can give us the references when BMW and VW top management said that “quite emphatically “

        2. NickC
          September 24, 2019

          Martin, Your strawman. Again. What has sneering (or not) at the heads of BMW and VW got to do with it? Remains, like you, sneer at the Leave view that the EU car industry would put pressure on their politicians. The EU car makers have just done so in public.

          Moreover leaving the EU is not a “problem”, so I could not “boast” about it being so. Seeing only the problems and not the opportunities is a Remain speciality.

    14. a-tracy
      September 23, 2019

      Andy, please explain how Brexit affects 500 establishments that are losing money? I’m more interested in how they managed to trade for so long losing money! After previously owning a travel business that I sold, the writing was on the wall for the likes of Thomas Cook years ago with your admired generation not using travel agencies to book their holidays and self-booking none package holidays online, the internet killed a lot of it, people using air bnbs, booking lower cost with none protected carriers. Travellers used to have more protection through ABTA travel agencies (the licence fees and qualification requirements and high bond persuaded many independents to leave it to the big companies years ago). These big agencies squoze a lot more independent tour operators and agencies out of business too when they stopped selling their products through them.

    15. forthurst
      September 23, 2019

      Thomas Cook Group plc was formed in 2007 from a merger of Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel plc. At the time of its collapse, Thomas Cook Group had written down £b1.1 “goodwill” mainly inherited from MyTravel which was costing it a quarter of its gross income annually to service. Yet another example of a company which had grown large by accretion rather than organic growth and at the same time failing to recognise that their market place was shrinking as the overwhelming majority of foreign holiday makers booked online. Not really – it was all the fault of Brexit and AGW.

    16. Worker
      September 23, 2019

      Andy it’s funny. I can merrily and easily write for hours on social media and on this blog like falling off a log. No energy required. But just as soon as I delve very very deep into meanings of words and sentences particularly and only of one writer, one hour is like 40 hours plus.
      I can read your words 24/7 with just a small cress sandwich for nutrients.
      Why do you think driving a taxi and delivering food is below you? Honourable work!

    17. Dennis Zoff
      September 23, 2019


      Bravo, your delusive sophistry is becoming more ludicrous each day! One can only smile at your tenacity…or laugh in the face of it!

    18. L Jones
      September 23, 2019

      Andy doesn’t pay any heed to ‘facts’, Sir John. He/she has fixed ideas, very little idea of research and obviously comes over all excited when he/she thinks something ought to be blamed on Brexit!
      (By the way, Andy, have you noticed that Brexit hasn’t happened yet?)

    19. Lynn Atkinson
      September 23, 2019

      German Company. Germany in big trouble. Best to get out of the EU ASAP.

      1. Dennis Zoff
        September 23, 2019

        Lynn Atkinson

        How so?

    20. Harmz
      September 23, 2019

      Reply to reply- yes but the imminent arrival of brexit was the final nail that collapsed this ponzi scheme, people decided as a whole not to travel at October November time. This and the value of Sterling to other currencies? All brexit related but it’s only the start.

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        Three years of delay and resulting uncertainty for businesses and their customers.
        Caused by remainers.
        Imagine if we had left a few days after the referendum result.

        1. Denis Cooper
          September 23, 2019

          I now wish that we had just done that, rather than respecting the EU treaties and following the Article 50 withdrawal process we had agreed should be introduced with the Lisbon Treaty.

          Then we would not have had Theresa May dragging her feet to deliberately slow down our escape and allow her Remoaner friends time to get themselves organised, and nor would we have had her deliberately giving the EU a massive advantage from the very start:


          “Speaking to Emma Barnett on Radio 5 Live, Theresa May’s former Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, has finally admitted the UK was “obviously” wrong to agree to the EU’s demand that the divorce negotiations take place before the future relationship negotiations.”

    21. Fred H
      September 23, 2019

      Andy…I doubt T.Cook has been helped by the anti-British tone of all communication from the EU. I know the business has been badly managed for years which is the real cause of the difficulties. With the demise of T.Cook the EU countries will experience even lower tourist trade from UK. Tough on the workers, and the tourist trade.

    22. APL
      September 23, 2019

      Andy “Just think of all those poor Thomas Cook workers who will now have to deliver pizzas and driver taxis.”

      They won’t be able to drive a taxi, unless they are prepared to under-cut the newly imported Doctors and Engineers who seem to prefer driving taxis despite the middleclass political CONLAB party telling use it’s absolutely necessary they work in the NHS or Civil Engineering.

    23. Mike Wilson
      September 23, 2019

      Utter bilge. They still have hundreds of high street premises while most people book on-line. Like most of these situations, the cause is poor management who, so I hear, managed to find plenty of money for themselves. You make yourself sound completely daft with your endless Brexit nonsense.

    24. Libertarian
      September 23, 2019


      Thomas Cook is a German owned company

      the Carlson Leisure Group merged with Thomas Cook into a holding company owned by the German bank, Westdeutsche Landesbank, Carlson Inc

      You utter bufoon

      1. Dennis Zoff
        September 24, 2019


        For the avoidance of doubt.

        Thomas Cook was partly owned by a German company (Arcandor AG 52% ownership – this company filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and sold its Thomas Cook shareholding),

        Today, Thomas Cook Group plc’s major shareholders are listed below. The remainder of the stock floats freely.

        1. Guang Chang Guo 18.1%
        2. Neset Kockar 8.01%
        3. Rodionova Lilia 3.46%
        4. Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers Ltd. 3.43%
        5. Aviva Investors Global Services Ltd. 2.05%
        6. Legal & General Investment Management Ltd. 1.99%
        7. Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management Ltd. 1.64%
        8. Schroder Investment Management Ltd. 1.36%
        9. HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Ltd. 1.28%
        10. Morgan Stanley Securities Ltd. (Market-Maker) 1.10%

        Regarding Andy’s comment…

        Thomas Cook Group’s demise was initiated before Brexit came along! The Travel Market changed, TC was too slow to adapt.

        Conclusion: Poor management vision and a fast-changing market killed TC, plain and simple.

  8. Alan Jutson
    September 23, 2019

    Many a small business starts off with self employment, probably working from home, whilst either in full time employment, or as a contractor for someone else, as it is a chance to dip your toe in the water without risking everything all at once.

    Many examples then exist where very small businesses grow into larger businesses and even giant PLC’s.

    Likewise those who are unemployed should be able to test self employment to see if it suits whilst still being allowed to claim SOME benefit, for a short period of time, depending upon hours worked and money earned.

    Thus the tax and benefit system should be flexible enough not to penalise either work or additional sources of income.

    Whilst self employment is always a risk, the rewards can be more than just earnings or profits, as you have flexibility and some control over hours and days worked to suit your chosen lifestyle or commitments.

    Self employment is not the answer for the many who prefer a more structured day.

    It makes me laugh when many people say oh you are so lucky having your own business, when you have to find your own customers (expensive and time consuming certainly at the start), pay all of your own costs of Liability insurance, heat, light, power, fund all of your own office or workspace equipment, and be totally responsible for the work you produce or the products you manufacture or sell, all without any guaranteed income at all.
    Then of course we have VAT, Customs and Excise, Health and Safety, and Regulations of all types, as well as taking the complete financial risk.

    Yes self employment does work, and can be the answer for some, but perhaps not for the majority.

  9. James1
    September 23, 2019

    If I want to work for someone, and that person wants to employ me it should be entirely between the two of us as to the terms of employment that we agree. The government should have no business forcing either party to agree anything. The economy would operate much more efficiently if people simply minded their own business, and the government stopped interfering, tinkering and trying to ‘fix’ things.

    1. Bob
      September 23, 2019

      “The economy would operate much more efficiently if people simply minded their own business, and the government stopped interfering, tinkering and trying to ‘fix’ things.”

      Hear hear!

    2. Andy
      September 23, 2019

      The problem with your argument is that it assumes – incorrectly – that everyone is decent and will play fair. And we know this is not true.

      Your method would see people work in unsafe conditions for £2 an hour with no breaks or holidays. And we know this is the case because this is what always happens with unchecked capitalism. Someone will try to gain a competitive advantage for their business by exploiting their workers.

      Decent companies understand the need to treat their staff well. Proper holidays. Decent pay. Safe conditions. Flexible working. Employees of blue chip companies now expect all this as standard. And the companies involved get more commitment and harder work from their staff as a result.

      We know Brexit will be used to attack employment rights. We know then multi-millionaire privately educated Brexiteer elite want to make themselves richer by exploiting people. This is as sure as night follows day. We will not let them.

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        Yet no political party wants to repeal laws protecting employees.

        Most EU laws on this subject have just copied laws already applying in the UK .

        Come on Andy, just who would get elected if they proposed no health and safety, no holidays,no breaks and no minimum wages.
        Ridiculous fantasy onsense.

      2. Dennis Zoff
        September 23, 2019


        I agree (surprisingly) with your first three sentences.

        The last sentence, however, I do not wholly agree with. Brexit will, in my opinion, undoubtedly enhance business growth, and that growth will be in the new high tech industries that need highly skilled labour. This, in turn, will enhance employment conditions.

        Also, the UK is a different beast from a hundred years ago (and the past historical labour movement struggles, which paved the way for better worker rights, is fully acknowledged)…but nevertheless, we should remain vigilant to certain corporate excesses you envisage? For example, zero-hour contracts is a case in point, which I personally abhor!

      3. Fred H
        September 23, 2019

        Andy – – you usually tell us that the Brexiteers are uneducated, unqualified thick. Now you complain that ‘We know then multi-millionaire privately educated Brexiteer…..
        Sort out you views, please. I can’t keep up with your latest guru explanations about the world and everything in it.

    3. Sharon Jagger
      September 23, 2019


      Hear, hear!

      Too much interference from the state! (In too many areas of life, not just employment)

    4. Martin in Cardiff
      September 23, 2019

      And it should absolutely not be for Tory governments to legalise one of the parties, the employer, tearing up their side of the deal should they please either.

      That is effectively what their employment “law” does, subject to a few window-dressing measures.

      What a pity that such laws, like most, were never part of the European Union’s remit?

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        What on Earth are you in about Martin?
        Employment protections in the UK are higher than any other country.

        1. Dennis Zoff
          September 24, 2019


          This is not wholly true. Germany, France, Sweden, and Italy, for example, have much higher employment protection…..perhaps you can explain why you feel the UK’s is stronger?

          1. Edward2
            September 25, 2019

            It’s the overall package available to employees.
            Workplace pensions contracts of employment, redundancy rights lay off pay paternity and maternity rights health and safety legislation minimum wage protection unfair dismissal laws equality and discrimination laws
            The list is endless.
            But the best protection of all is the employee’s ability to walk away and quickly get another job.
            And in the UK that ability is stronger than nearly every EU nation

          2. Dennis Zoff
            September 25, 2019


            Well, I deal with employee Remuneration packages throughout Europe (the aforementioned countries are extremely onerous for businesses in the event of disputes or the need for redundancies) and have intimate knowledge of the employment laws at the senior management level, which equally apply to junior staff. I can assure you British employment laws are weaker.

            I am not saying British employment laws are particularity bad, just that they are not as good as you have in Western Europe. (If you are an employee good, if you are an employer bad! Unions have a strong influence on proceedings)

            Perhaps you can point me to a company in Europe where you have practiced senior management directly, dealing intimately with employment law?

            I have been running UK/European companies for the past 30+ years and have had first-hand experience in dealing with Terminations and Redundancy, both in the UK and Europe.

            Without doubt the European employment laws are more onerous and expensive for employers than in the UK?

            “Simple example: Termination”

            Germany has strict laws governing the termination of employment in order to protect employees from unfair dismissal. (Unions ensure this)

            Immediate dismissal is only possible in extraordinary circumstances; for example, in the event of serious proven misconduct (legal challenges can take many months and is very costly for employers. Usually an expensive settlement is preferred).

            Generally, an employer must give notice in writing and employees are entitled up to seven months notice, depending on how long they have worked for the organization. (Individual employment contracts may specify a far longer period than set out in law.)

            In Germany employers must consider social factors such as “age”, “disability” and how many “dependents” an employee has…this is very strict and is a legal mine field.

            German employment law is widely regarded as extremely complex and some analysts advise taking out legal protection insurance to cover legal costs in the event of a long dispute.

            # now we move to France, Italy or Scandinavia and it is even more complex.

      2. libertarian
        September 23, 2019


        You are talking complete and utter dribble

        WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE EU still and we have fully implemented all EU legislation regarding the workplace. We are also signed up to ILO

        You talk nonsense

        1. Martin in Cardiff
          September 24, 2019

          OK, name one, apart from H&S, such as the WTD?

    5. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      Exactly! – The same should apply to renting properties and many other things. Then there would be far more & better paid jobs and more properties available to rent more cheaply. Plus the added benefit of few people doing parasitic jobs and getting in the way of things.

  10. agricola
    September 23, 2019

    Agree paragraph one entirely. Flexible working should be by mutual consent without duress and incorporated in law.

    Your taxi driver friend should buy a taxi and use it as such when he isn’t doing his digital technology. He would probably need transport for the latter so make it dual purpose transport. Additionally I wish your pizza friend well, lets hope he end up making his own pizzas. As for the government, they should be doing everything they can to facilitate such enterprise, they are after all only nurturing their own business in the long term.

  11. Lifelogic
    September 23, 2019

    Well contrary to you I do believe is free contracts and agreements between employers and employees just get the state out of it. That way is much more efficient, flexible and much more productive. Restrictive employment laws damage productivity hugely and means bad employees can ride on the backs of good ones for years. We end up retaining poor teachers, doctors, builders, engineers, pilots, nurses and the likes and many people suffer as a direct result. Other employees and the customers too. Having to pay more for goods and poorer services or even paying with their lives in some cases. Jobs are then also exported to more sensible regimes.

    The only real protection for employees is the availability of other good jobs, if they do not like the one they have already. It also kills many parasitic jobs in HR and the legal professions with a large and beneficial effect.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      One certainly does not want the EU or EU courts to have any say in these or environmental matters as Labour seem to want, They clearly have no faith in the UK politicians and courts.

      1. bigneil
        September 23, 2019

        The EU don’t want the UK to have ANY courts of our own.

      2. ian wragg
        September 23, 2019

        Labour hates Britain (the politicians, not the voters) they will side with anyone to the detriment of the UK.

    2. Bob
      September 23, 2019

      Current employment laws cultivate mediocrity because after two years in a job the employees can relax in the knowledge that short of gross misconduct they are unlikely to be fired, especially if they work for a small business that doesn’t have a HR dept. available to handle the minefield of red tape where for example, a verbal warning has to be made in writing.

    3. Dennis Zoff
      September 23, 2019

      Fair and equitable “free contracts and agreements between employers and employees”

      Double-edged sword. Depends on which side of the arrangement one sits and a question of balance between company growth and employee stability (in all its guises):

      As it stands we have (arguably):

      (a) Business profitability (Conservative) vs (b) employment security (the people) vs (c) employee control (Labour)

      An example (c) employee control: try enforcing the current, more conservative UK employment laws in Europe and of course vice versa. If you want full State intervention/enforcement, attempt sacking an employee, for say, gross negligence or job incompetence in France, Germany or Italy? Good luck with that one….American companies frequently come unstuck with the complexities of European employment law?

      On the other hand, for example, German companies in the past have circumvented this employment hot potato by issuing a statement to the effect “Should the Government wish to impose additional company restrictions (enhanced employee rights/union’s BOD representation), the company will relocate its business (usually a factory/s) to an ex European Comecon country” This has worked effectively against union and Government interference (capitalism vs socialism in play)…regardless of what Brussels demands.

      Additionally, enhanced employee rights in France have strangled business growth, hence Monsieur le Président MACRON’s hard stance on existing employment law. (pushed by Corporate/Banking interests!)

      ….and there lies the dichotomy for the EU: On the one hand, it has a strong desire to have more socialism/centralised bureaucracy/stronger regulations/enhanced employee rights “EU ethos” and on the other hand, the EU supports business growth (Tax returns), but is struggling with the capitalistic approach of companies that want “more Corporate control/unregulated practices/reduced taxes, with high employee mobility” within the same EU package…interesting bedfellows indeed?

  12. sm
    September 23, 2019

    For many years, General Practitioners – who as private businesses get all their income from one source – were nevertheless allowed to be taxed as self-employed, to their advantage. Does anyone know if this still happens?

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      Yes. Also it is a completely idiotic way to remunerate them. They get a capitation fee per person on their list whether they see them or not.

      So they are incentivised to make it as hard as possible to get an appointment and not to take on any difficult patients. One reason the NHS system is so very dire and incompetent.

    2. graham1946
      September 23, 2019

      They are independent businesses, mostly partnerships.

      The thing about GPs is that although they are owner businesses, they still have access to NHS pensions. Totally wrong. No-one else can do it as far as I know.

      Either you are independent and provide for yourself, or you are an employee. GPs seem to have cooked up a very sweet deal with cowardly governments (Labour started it, but the Tories dare not challenge it). They don’t even have to work unsocial hours. My GP’s, according to their own website work about 16-20 hours per week for an average pay of £80,000 and we wait on average 3 weeks for an appointment – online only, as the Government have stopped them taking advance appointments through the receptionists, same day appointments only allowed that way, phoning and by 8.10 am they are fully booked. Nice work if you can get it, but you can’t, only they can.

      1. Fred H
        September 23, 2019

        Our Medical Centre used to report average earnings for just GPs, averaged full and part-time – £97,000. Now they report the average over all the staff 140+ – £53,000.

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    September 23, 2019

    The most constrictive element of being employed is having to jump to the tune of the employer. Working hours, attendance and methodology are all, rightly, defined by the employer. Who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Where self employment has an advantage over employment is not having to take the money. The payer calls the tune but the paper doesn’t have to take the money. This suits many people and must be available.

    This to me is the essence of self employment. The choice to work or not. Without this you are employed.

  14. Dominic
    September 23, 2019

    Can we please drop the pretence that politicians are in anyway concerned for the welfare of people? We know politicians express faux concern. It’s become a marketing exercise for them. Some call it virtue signalling. I call it cynicism

    Adults can protect their own interests. We’re not children and we don’t need toilet training

    Tory politicians need to focus on exposing Marxist Labour, Labour’s criminal history and their support for extremism.

    Target Labour not the private sector who have to absorb the cost both of their own business and the institutional waste of Labour’s client state.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      “Cynicism” – I call it attempting to buy votes by (dishonestly) promising many voters money stolen off a few other voters and businesses. They never deliver anything positive in the end and damage everyone.

      Indeed Corbyn and McDonnall get more idiotic and damaging by the day. Almost every single thing they propose would be an appalling social & economic disaster.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 23, 2019

        Or stolen off landlords!

      2. Lifelogic
        September 23, 2019

        Or stolen of pensions funds or other shareholders.

    2. Bob
      September 23, 2019

      I think the Tories are following the adage “if you can’t beat them, join them”, they’ve abandoned conservatism.

  15. Aaron
    September 23, 2019

    I think the focus should be on the large companies that pay next to no tax in the UK, or who can negotiate with HMRC on the amount of tax they pay.
    If contractors are paying the tax the government says is due, then there is no point in HMRC reclassing contractors as employees to extract more tax. It just leads to people changing how they work again, such as partnerships, umbrellas, or just not working, to the detriment of the economy.
    The problem with the current IR35 legislation is that it treats contractors as employees without employment benefits, but contractors still pay VAT and corporation tax.

    The contracting and flexible working market is working and doesn’t need government intervention. The taxation of large overseas companies is broken, and needs fixing.

    1. Andy
      September 23, 2019

      Correct. Such companies move their profits around so are difficult to tax. Of course the EU is doing a great job of taking on companies like Apple and the other tech giants who abuse their position.

      But we’re leaving the EU so we won’t be able to tackle these companies in future. They will just move everything elsewhere.

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        It was the EU single market that allows multinationals to choose an HQ for accounting purposes.
        Most choose Luxembourg.

  16. Al
    September 23, 2019

    The other problem is the unintended consequences of deemed or forced employment.

    Say I work in IT security and run a company. If I need to go onsite for a client’s issue that takes a morning, surely I am still employed by my own company. The client pays them, they pay me. If I am onsite for a month, or three to six months in the case of security assessment, I am still employed by my company.

    This matters because employees of the company being assessed can be pressured or outright forced not to reveal misconduct through employment terms. As a third party with corporate insurance, assessors cannot be so ordered and do not have to rely on their good will for a reference. Forcing employment by the company being assessed in this case defeats the entire purpose.

  17. Sir Joe Soap
    September 23, 2019

    Are these people free to turn down work on occasion from the customer/employer?

    Yes= self employed

    1. Martin in Cardiff
      September 23, 2019

      In principle, yes, in practice, if they do, then they often don’t get asked again.

      1. Edward2
        September 23, 2019

        Depends how useful they are.

      2. libertarian
        September 23, 2019


        Wrong…. again

        Its actually a condition of HMRC recognising you as self employed . It benefits an employer to be turned down for work as they can then legitimately show the workers are truly self employed .

        I know lots of people that run employment agencies , contractors and self employed turn down work all the time. They often get asked again

        1. Martin in Cardiff
          September 24, 2019

          The often do but often don’t too, it depends on the industry.

          In film, entertainment, and TV it tends to be the latter, for instance.

  18. Newmania
    September 23, 2019

    John Redwood is not a stupid man and yet he says many stupid things.Why ?
    Why his professed belief that we could treat QE as money printing? Why the labyrinthine argument for counter recessionary fiscal Policy whilst Brexit ( he says ) will add to growth?
    The reason is that his true agenda, whilst coherent, it is not politically defensible.
    Any respectable argument for Brexit would have to admit that it facilitates trade. The contention would be that the soft left economic model that comes with the deal is a brake on growth overall and in the long term a reconfigured deregulated economy would be an Atlantic tiger
    His defence of the UK`s low level of worker rights ( to cut to the point ) must be read in that context. Personally I do not agree but if he would make his case rather than talking complete nonsense it would be a good deal less irritating.

    Reply I do not favour lower worker rights in employment.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      Lower “rights” can be hugely beneficial to the economy and to the availability of jobs and so employees too (which is in the end the only real protection for employees in the end).

      More rights benefits lawyers, HR people, courts, tribunals and other largely parasitic workers. Fewer rights means more competitive businesses, cheaper products, more job availability and better pay and conditions. This as they have to, otherwise employees go elsewhere to these readily available other jobs.

      1. Lifelogic
        September 23, 2019

        some employees too

    2. a-tracy
      September 23, 2019

      I thought JR made his case for self-employment choices rather well. If people don’t want self-employment they must look for full-time PAYE work I know many people who work for my business for that reason, they would rather be workers than self-employed.

      As for zero hours. zero hours workers are all entitled to holiday pay 1 day per 9 days worked. Most people I engage on these contracts are retirees who are looking just for a couple of weeks or odd days illness cover to pay for their holidays each year. If they get cancelled I wouldn’t hire them on regular hours because I don’t need them for this purpose and would just cope with holiday cover on the other staff I have, I would just stop allowing two people taking the same weeks holiday and covering staff sickness the others would just have to step up or we’d turn work away.

      Companies that engage self-employed agents 5 days per week (or 35 hours per week), every week of the year bar 5 weeks, plus those self-employed agents don’t work elsewhere, well it’s simple really these are employees not self- employed, self-determining agents working for several companies. It is just avoidance of 13.8% employers ni, 3% nest, statutory sick pay, statutory maternity and paternity pay, holiday pay averaged over the previous months earnings including overtime and costly WTD rules.

    3. NickC
      September 23, 2019

      Newmania, It may be possible to contend, as you evidently believe, that the EU “facilitates trade” for the UK to the EU – though neither you nor any Remains on here even bother to make that case, you just spout slogans.

      It is equally possible to contend that the EU hampers UK trade, both domestically (by far the biggest share of UK GDP) and RoW exports. Those facts have frequently been explained here.

      If the EU were simply a trade deal, being a member would entail recognising the positives and the negatives, and arriving at a balanced judgement. But the EU isn’t just a trade deal, it is an empire which makes the UK merely a province. Even if your claimed marginal benefits were true (they’re not) losing our independence is not worth it.

    4. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      So called “Lower workers right” would actually help the good workers, improve competitivity, wages and job availability. He might not help those swinging the lead thought – which would also be a good thing for the good workers.

    5. Newmania
      September 23, 2019

      I think the question is more whether employment rights should be enhanced to deal with the modern gig economy
      One point is that the legal definition of an employee is ( basically ) if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck . The is being refined in the courts on borderline cases but it s not possible for employers, under existing law, to evade the UK`s minimal responsibilities by making employees acquire a self employed paper status.
      Never has been

    6. L Jones
      September 23, 2019

      ………………. This is demonstrated clearly by the fact that he/she simply cannot resist inserting an offensive remark at some point in any of his/her comments.
      Newmania – if you find our host’s blog ”irritating”, might it be wise not to read it at all? I don’t think your contributions, patronising blatherings or narrow-minded opinions would be missed.

  19. J Bush
    September 23, 2019

    Slightly related to your article, I get rather cross of these SJW women continually griping on about special rights for women, and I say this as a woman who worked in a male dominated field for over 20 years. When I was offered a managerial position, it was based on my successful track record of delivering the project on time, to cost and to quality, not because of my anatomy.

    Today’s women are wimps and frightened of challenge.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 23, 2019

      Indeed people like Harman (wanting to be speaker just because she is a “woman’) or the dire pathetic Theresa May. There is no pay gap that is not justified by the different work life balance choices that women often take and jobs careers they choose to fit in.
      Women without children already earn slightly more than men.

      They are for example far less likely to choose to commute to work, or to work longer hours or away from base so of course they tend to earn slightly less. Also rather few choose to study physics, engineering, construction or computer programming too. Less that 1 in 5 are female in these areas.

    2. bigneil
      September 23, 2019

      With your ” successful track record of delivering the project on time, to cost and to quality, ” you should have been put in charge of all the government projects – I don’t think any have been delivered on time, within cost etc. Crossrail, HS2 etc etc. Every single one starts with one figure – then goes up at the same rate as a helium balloon.

    3. a-tracy
      September 23, 2019

      I agree with you J Bush and get cross too, you’re not equal if you want special terms, shorter hours, no overnights, no essential overtime, you can’t expect your male colleagues to do all the awkward parts of the job so you can sail home. Not all of today’s women are ‘wimps or frightened of challenge’ and I know plenty of women in their 20’s working their asses off getting very frustrated with these SJW people purporting to talk for them.

    4. Anonymous
      September 23, 2019

      Aptitude testing for jobs is now reduced in difficulty or dispensed with altogether so that young white men of high ability can be deliberately ignored in selection.

      Also white men who give their all to their jobs (and there are many) are now being told that their efforts must be ignored.

      Services and productivity is in decline.

      No-one will admit that this is the cause of much decline.

    5. Earley Riser
      September 23, 2019

      “Today’s women are wimps and frightened of challenge.”
      Tell that to my daughters and I’ll be the one wimping out to leave the room while they tear into you. People don’t tend to condescend to them a second time.

      We would all agree that over-promoting someone into a job they are not suited for does no favours to anyone.

      But they have to fight their corner every day against sexist comments and belittling men. You may have won your battle but the war is by no means won.
      Brexit has made things worse by legitimising racism in some people’s minds and if that’s OK now then let’s go back to some traditional sexism.

      1. Anonymous
        September 24, 2019

        Totally the opposite of what is happening where I work.

  20. Stred
    September 23, 2019

    A friend is has been employed in academic research and teaching for 30 years and has paid NI, pension contributions and tax at 45%. For a few years she has been employed as a private consultant abroad, earning enough to lose her allowance and the higher tax rate. She was surprised to learn from the IR that she has to pay self employed NI in addition, as she is covered by her present contributions. Now she pays well over 50% of her earnings for working a 17 hour day. This government is one of the most tax grabbing ever. The self employed already lose out on tax and NI, having to pay tax on current years earnings before receiving payment in her case. She currently needs to borrow to pay tax whilst being fleeced by the overpaid hyenas at HMRC.

  21. Walt
    September 23, 2019

    Re employed or self-employed. It’s not only the employers who are at fault in such cases; the employees (sometimes dubbed associates or similar) who participate are culpable too. The employee can refuse (I did).
    Re taxi driver and pizza deliverer. Is it his taxi or moped, or is it his employer’s? Does he provide his own equipment, maintain his own regulatory records? Does he wear his own clothes, with no employer’s uniform or badge of identity on his clothes or vehicle?

    1. a-tracy
      September 24, 2019

      Often Walt the driver has to lease/rent all the equipment from the main provider, with decals etc with the host companies name on it.

  22. Iain Gill
    September 23, 2019

    fire should be hire obviously…

  23. Matt Ryan
    September 23, 2019

    How about reducing the size of the state and thus the burden on business for the likes of NI before interfering with employment contacts.

  24. Gareth Warren
    September 23, 2019

    I believe too things like zero hour contracts are a con, also many IT contractors are not in any way self employed, that too is a con.

    Personally I do not know what the answer to end this is, I know self employed people who are already very diligent and have the extra expense of accountants to comply with present laws.

    Personally I think we can improve things by reducing the costs that keep people chained to a contract. Lower immigration and slightly better credit requirements will help bring down the cost of housing, which is the bulk of costs.

    Then reduced taxation will help, simple improvements like simplifying bureaucracy will help, less employees in the state sector helps the private find employees too. I’d also push for more people who can afford it to use private schools and healthcare – this clearly saves the tax payer having to fund it. I had a great education, in no way did someone deprive me by going to a private school.

  25. Iain Moore
    September 23, 2019

    It always surprises me to see the Labour party and Unions supporting the flooding of the labour market with cheap labour from abroad in their pro immigration stance , probably one of the most significant factors in the unpicking of their members employment terms and conditions

  26. Derek Henry
    September 23, 2019

    Life logic brought up the word ” Productive”

    Surely when you look at these issues productivity has to be the crux of the issue. Ever since we have gave Capital more and more power over Labour our productivity has suffered.The real data shows this very clearly.

    It discourages the private sector to invest long term and who can blame them when they can have their cake and eat it.

    Who can blame them when they see austerity economics all around them.

    Surely the answer has to be to make Capital compete for Labour again and there is 50 ways to skin that cat. The key being get rid of the dead wood out of the economy the uncompetitive and unproductive businesses that are able to hang on using cheap labour. The country needs a clear out.

    A job guarantee would replace the insane idea that we have to keep a group of humans unemployed just to control inflation. That the private sector does not want to hire from because they have been unemployed for years.

    A job guarantee would replace that with a group of employed humans that the private sector could hire from.

    More importantly the government as monopoly price setter sets the price. A floor price for work and terms and conditions. That generates true competition in the private sector. Competition makes this country but given the choice the private sector would always choose to become a monopoly so they do not have to compete.

    A job guarantee at a living wage gets rid of tax credits with a stroke of a pen another unproductive mess. It replaces the automatic stabilisers because it is a more effective price anchor.

    More importantly creates true full employment. True full employment encourages long term investment in the private sector. Invest in machinery and AI and become more productive over all. True competition as we all know the word.

    With the added bonus that if the private sector has to shed jobs as they become more productive these humans fall straight into the job guarentee. Start work the very next day instead of being forced to stay unemployed some times for years just to control inflation as Carney pushes on a bit of string pretending it is working.

    An employed buffer is what is needed to drive productivity not an unemployed one. Not to mention the damage it does right across this country keeping humans unemployed for years just to control inflation.

    The private sector should embrace competition not run away from it and we will see productivity grow again.

    1. Derek Henry
      September 23, 2019

      Setting a floor price is key and then let the market float against that price.

      The government being the monopoly price setter can do that.

      Think the oil market and the part the Saudis play and you will understand the dynamics.

    2. Edward2
      September 24, 2019

      How can I as an employer guarantee my staff jobs for life?
      You leave out the power of my customers to decide whether my business survives.
      They either buy the products and services at the price I need to charge or they go elsewhere.
      The market changes faster now than ever before.
      As a result some businesses fail.

  27. Everhopeful
    September 23, 2019

    The “tax people” are great at assuming guilt on the part of the tax payer. Dealing with them is horrendous.
    Why should it be like that? Those with whom they come into contact are obviously not the problem. They are the ones trying to regularise their tax position.
    “ Delighting their customers” is not in the revenue’s remit.
    We, the tax paying portion of the population are doing our duty. We are legally obliged so to do in order to keep an edifice not of our making ( not in our wildest nightmares) on the road. The system should therefore be flexible and listening. Human and humane.
    Which of course increasingly it isn’t.

  28. glen cullen
    September 23, 2019

    Parliament Act vs European International Treaty

    The Hilary Benn European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 aim to instruct the PM to renegotiate the withdrawal treaty and to ensure a ‘no-deal’ outcome

    The EU withdrawal extension Article 50(3)TEU EUCO XT 20006/19 section (11)) clearly states that under this law you will not enter into any renegotiation

    So which law trumps which law and which law will the PM abide ?

    1. Mark B
      September 23, 2019

      EU Law is superior to UK law.

  29. Peter
    September 23, 2019

    I agree with your first paragraph.

    The rules should be simple – a so-called “flexible” arrangement should only be allowed to exist by mutual consent. If an employer tries to coerce an employee into it, or declines to grant a request for a conventional employment contract, or in any way discriminates against their full-time employees in favour of those on zero-hours contracts, then this should be met with penalties that are more than just a slap on the wrist.

  30. Norman
    September 23, 2019

    Word-perfect speech by Anne Widdecombe – hope Boris listens!
    (I was privileged to know her late brother, Malcolm, a redoubtable minister of the Gospel, at SS Philip’s and St Jacob’s Anglican Church Bristol, (Pip’n Jay’s).

  31. 'None of the above'.
    September 23, 2019

    I support the notion of free choice and non interference by Government in employment matters.
    The best way of removing the “issues” from employment and contracting relationships is to harmonise the Tax and NI rules for everyone in work, irrespective of the relationship between ‘Contractor/Employer’ and ‘Contractee/Employee.

    NI is a tax on employment and should be abolished and absorbed into an income tax scheme.
    There needs to be a re-emphasis on 2 fundamental rules:-
    1. If you receive payment for a service, tell HMRC.
    2.If you pay someone else for a service, tell HMRC.

  32. Dominic
    September 23, 2019


    We’re not interested in Tory virtue signalling. Stop pandering to Marxist Labour. Stop pandering to the unions. Stop pandering to the BBC and their leftist agenda

    It is the Tory party’s job to expose the extremism of Labour and to date your party are simply refusing to go down that avenue foe fear of being slandered by the usual ‘phobia’ slander tactics.

    By not doing so the Tories are damaging the interests of this nation and the moral majority who have been sidelined since your party decided to reject morality and embrace politicisation of all things

    Again, you have left the most contentious issues that Labour can be exposed to the BP and their previous incarnation

    Why do you tolerate this demonisation and slander from Labour MPs?

    Expose their tactics, their strategy fgs

  33. BillM
    September 23, 2019

    A good idea, SJ. Let Boris now set up yet another of those ubiquitous Quangos to investigate the working practice of zero-hours contracts and report their findings by 2025.
    I’m being facetious of course but why isn’t there a laid down rule book covering this modern trend to protect both the employee and the manufacturer/employer.
    I am sure that the DWP can form a team and bring in bosses and workers alike to put forward their own ideas.
    Who needs another QUANGO when Government Departments already have the resources? And why does it take the Public Sector so long to prepare a report?

    1. tim
      September 23, 2019

      BillM- We could prepare a REAL report right here! In fact the information gleaned so far would be sufficient. BUT – They cant handle the truth.

  34. Harmz
    September 23, 2019

    It’s all going to be happening over there in New York this week and I don’t think many will be paying attention to JR’s topic of the day, ie. flexible working hours and working conditions- not this week anyhow. So then will Boris get some solace or agreement from Macron and Merkel so he can bypass Barnier, probably not, non non! as Tusk will sharply tell him. Imagine having to go all the way over to New York to be told the brutal facts of reality- Non Non there will be no cherry picking- the treaty WA is there so up to you- do or die

    1. Fred H
      September 23, 2019

      ERR……whats happening in New York?

    2. Edward2
      September 23, 2019

      If the EU refuse to move from their current position then we leave without ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement.
      Blame them
      After more than three years.

      1. margaret howard
        September 23, 2019


        How sad to see after 3 years you still can’t grasp the simple fact:

        We voted to leave, not the EU (in fact neither did Scotland nor Ireland, just us).

        When you leave a club you don’t call the shots and tell the other members what to do or what you are prepared to do. When we joined we signed up to the conditions the club demanded, not the ones we were willing to give.

        As you say – Pathetic

        1. Edward2
          September 24, 2019

          You dont do a deal with a club Margaret you just leave.
          In most clubs you even get the unused portion of you annual subscription returned and you certainly are not liable for the club’s future spending plans after you leave.

          I realise we voted to leave and I agree that is a simple process.
          But the day after the result remainers began their plotting to delay and finally stop us leaving.
          Harmz said it was the Withdrawal Agreement or nothing.
          Well the Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by Parliament three times, by all sides, by big majorities.
          The EU say they will not modify the Withdrawal Agreement.
          Therefore we have to leave without ratifying this treaty.

        2. NickC
          September 24, 2019

          Margaret H, The EU is not a club, it is an empire. The UK voted to Leave – it was a national binary Referendum, not a local one. We do not need, nor have any desire, to tell the EU what to do. Equally, when we’ve left, the EU can no longer tell us what to do. Since the EU has refused to negotiate a trade deal, then it is the EU’s fault that there isn’t one.

  35. Earley Riser
    September 23, 2019

    Along with many others around the country, I drove a new student to start University yesterday which should be a happy event.
    But my memory will also be that every motorway matrix sign had a gnomic Brexit warning. Every ten minutes it seemed there were radio adverts with vague warnings of trouble ahead if we ever want to travel to Europe again. No wonder travel firms are in distress.
    I don’t know what you are all trying to achieve with this but it’s driving the country to a nervous breakdown. There is nowhere to escape these warnings that “We’re all doomed, I tell you, DOOMED”.
    Anyway, must go, I need to stock up on lentils and tinned vegetables and loo rolls.

  36. Rhoddas
    September 23, 2019

    Nasty IR35 was introduced by nasty Brown during Labour’s reign … BUT continued and developed even more nastily by Tory nasties, Osbourne and Hammond… with their introduction of extra dividend taxation now to punitive levels, frankly I don’t see any difference between these 2 Parties shocking approach/assault on the self employed.

    Sir Joe Soap is quite right in his assessment above and as the self employed have to make their OWN provision for typical employee benefits as: Pensions, holidays, sickness cover, death-in-service benefit, training, company cars, sharesave schemes, redundancy payments etc they are clearly NOT employees!

    IR35 should have been repealed by the real Tories and allow enterprise to flourish, with a few simple rules around temporary contract work – duration for example. We hope the Brexit Party which appears to have attracted many entrepreneurs and business minded professionals will get a chance to fix this mess.

  37. David Maples
    September 23, 2019

    How paternalistic should employers be? Should they be ‘sugar daddies’ providing all imaginable benefits, or at the other extreme, merely wage payers and nothing else? Of course, there are a variety of alternatives in between, but choosing which ones…not easy. Unions, since Mrs Thatcher, have been ‘facing spinners bowling into the rough’, and workers rights have plummeted as a consequence.

    There is another even more important question…how to get the ‘work shy’ out of their lethargy and inertia, into gainful employment? They simply will not apply for jobs, using every excuse possible, leading them into total idleness, and a parasitic lifestyle leaching off the government, their family, friends and gullible charities. I know one woman now in her early 70’s, who has not earned a penny from paid employment in the last 45 years, who is in receipt of an old age pension from the state, of over £600 a month! How is this for an over generous transfer payment? And again, a man with a bad back, given a brand new car every 3 years + housing benefit.

    As Thomas Sowell the American economist said, we

    DEMONIZE the producers
    SUBSIDIZE those refuse to produce and
    CANONIZE those who complain!

    1. David Maples
      September 23, 2019


  38. Everhopeful
    September 23, 2019

    Just taken chaotic delivery of bagless shopping.
    The skill of course was in the packing of each bag making the handover easy and no bag too heavy.
    So…back broken…taking delivery of individual plastic containers wrapped in copious layers of plastic from the plastic crates held by a man whose job has been ruined.
    ( He has only so many minutes per delivery and bagless takes too long).
    Many saying to him that they will now go back to shopping in shops…if there are any left.
    Plastic, plastic everywhere yet not a bag to use! Utter utter stupid virtue signalling.
    Another to thank Mrs M forI believe?
    Only following orders!

    1. Anonymous
      September 24, 2019

      Which all gets blown up the street and into rivers from the open recycling boxes.


  39. bigneil
    September 23, 2019

    I see the James bond film Spectre was on over the weekend – seems to mirror what the EU is doing. Take control of defence of other countries – just like the EU is doing.

    1. margaret howard
      September 23, 2019


      Why doesn’t it surprise me that keen Brexiteers get their ideas and convictions from James Bond type films?

      Still, makes a change from the Daily Mail!

      1. Alan Jutson
        September 24, 2019


        Is there nothing in your life that makes you smile, we all surely know 007 is entertainment, perhaps not to everyones choice, but this comment I guess was made in jest, and you fell for it, hook line and sinker.

      2. NickC
        September 24, 2019

        Margaret H, The Daily Mail is now a Remain paper. Do keep up! And Bigneal’s point was that art (a film) was echoing reality, not the other way round as you just claimed. Do you get anything right?

  40. Trevor Butler
    September 23, 2019

    I chose to go down the contractor route five years ago and re negotiated my employment contract with my employer. This meant I could become a digital nomad and live anywhere I liked.
    We now live in the Far East and pay far less tax than we did in the UK.
    We’ve had behave like grown ups and sort out our own pension provision,
    I do not get sick pay but I do get a generous leave allowance.
    I’ve got freedom – As long as the work is accurate and delivered to the clients on time I am free to structure my life more around our lifestyle choices and I don’t have that commute into London!

  41. Worker
    September 23, 2019

    I had a 37 hour per week job plus one p-time job with one employer and two p-jobs with another, and there were ‘split shifts’ and ‘as-an-when-required’ features in the part-time jobs.
    Seven days per week with only holidays and weekends off from the full-time job.
    I gave up one of the part-time jobs because the other part-time employer offered me a further p-time job.
    I worked with a number of people doing similar. My part-time boss worked more hours than myself.Out-worked me. My full-time bosses in my main job (Labour Local Authority ) couldn’t out-work a corpse.
    So, it is great to have time to work more than one job. Fantastic! Keeps you fit too. No need for slimming gyms and calorie controlled diets. Not allowed to smoke or drink at work! It is a win win win!

  42. Worker
    September 23, 2019

    Now I’m trying to write books in my retirement days. I find my metabolism requires more nutrients just to keep me going than 70 plus hours per week in clerical and labouring jobs. Amazing! Well, my brain works slowly and inefficiently I guess. The Labour Party hates writers and, actors and artists . Despises the working class.

  43. Denis Cooper
    September 23, 2019

    Off topic,

    There are several interesting articles about Brexit in the Irish press today, but I don’t suppose that anybody in the UK government could even be bothered to look at them let alone respond to any of the points – mainly nonsensical points – which are being raised to mislead the Irish population and maintain their ill-informed support for the EU’s local representatives in Dublin.

    After all that Rapid Rebuttal Unit promised by Michael Gove six weeks ago:


    has yet to issue a single rebuttal, rapid or otherwise, to anything circulating in the UK media, so we can forget about responses to EU propaganda in the Irish media.

    I sometimes wonder whether Michael Gove or Boris Johnson or anyone else in this Tory government actually want us to leave the EU, they do not behave at if they do.

  44. Bob Dixon
    September 23, 2019

    My business needed to file 2 VAT returns this morning.We spent an hour trying to file. Finally we phoned HMRC. We would not be able to file as they were carrying out maintenance to their computer systems.There were no prior notices.Why not carry the maintenance over the weekends.

  45. XYZ
    September 23, 2019

    Don’t expect a short reply to a big question…

    The rules are based on artificial ‘employment statuses’: employed, self-employed, which is distinct from one-man-band limited company.

    These statuses are entirely artificial due to the differing tax treatment in each case – or to be precise, it’s the different National Insurance (NI) treatment, the tax is always the same one way or another (those who pay dividends through a Ltd Co end up getting a bill form HMRC when their Self-Assessment tax return is submitted, when their gross remuneration is examined and any difference in income tax due versus actual tax paid is demanded, including tax in higher rate bands).

    So it’s all about NI, with the different employment statuses paying:

    Employee pays: Employees NI (EENI) @ 12% then 1%/2% at higher income levels.
    Self-employed (Schedule D) pays: Class 4 @ 9%. There’s also a small fixed Class 2 contribution.
    Ltd Co pays: can be anything from zero to everything an employee pays PLUS Employers NI (ERNI) throughout their income @ 14%.

    There are also different treatments in their ability to claim expenses for travel and stay-away costs.

    In the end, however, these are all just people doing work. So why are the differences in their NI levels so wildly different?

    EE NI is just tax by another name these days. It used to be a levy, giving 3 key entitlements: use of the NHS, out-of-work benefits and the State Pension. Now everyone gets to use the NHS, even tourists, benefit claimants will be given access to a tax-based fund if they fail to qualify on NI contributions and the State Pension is a pittance and benefit claimants now have NI notionally deducted such that they also get a pension, possibly without ever doing any work…

    So it has been suggested that rolling NI into income tax would solve this problem. But it wouldn’t. Because there is still the issue of ER NI which is a tax on a business, not on the worker so it cannot be rolled into a personal tax. Some people are forced to operate through a Ltd Co by agencies, since the law may land an NI bill on the agency they create a separation by insisting that the worker uses a Ltd Co. Such people may then be deemed to be employees of the end client though awful legislation known as IR35, whereupon… guess who gets the bill for both EENI AND ER NI? Not the client, the deemed employer, as you’d expect – but the worker!!!

    HMRC can’t even differentiate between their daft employment statuses. They have no proper definition, so they try to argue by analogy, basically “We think plumbers are self-employed, so to be self-employed you have to be like a plumber”. So they define “tests” such as providing your own tools, because plumbers do that. Then someone says “But we work in IT and we can’t bring our own computers to work since the organisation we work for says it will compromise their network if we connect to it – we may introduce viruses and other malware, even accidentally via a computer over which they have no control”. It all falls apart rapidly.

    Not to mention that in the global economy, ER NI is a tax on employing BRITISH-BASED workers. Is it any wonder that we see offshoring to India etc when the indigenous Brit is disadvantaged by 14% before they even start to compete for the work? It also makes it less attractive to create a job at all, since the cost of doing so is 14% more than it would be in any other country.

    So, the SOLUTIONS:

    1. Do away with employers NI. Not at a stroke, but reduce it over time to zero – or to be paid only by the largest companies (the current allowance of £2,000 could be increased over time).
    2. Remove the artificial differentiation between ways of working, the so-called ‘employment statuses’.
    3. Deal with workers’ rights via legislation that deals with that issue as being completely separate from taxation.
    4. Since there would then be only one way of working, allow all workers to claim travel and stay-away expenses (possibly only if audited by an accountant, which adds a minimal cost).

    At present, as ever, the government are trying to control behaviour (employment rights etc) via tax rules. It doesn’t work. The zero hours contracts are a function of tax, not of employment – the companies don’t want to pay all that ER NI so they jump through hoops to make people self-employed, reducing their employment rights in the process (which is seen as a win-win for the profit-driven business).

    Finally, how does this affect the ‘little old lady living on her shares’? Well, if income tax is suddenly 31% then tax on dividends would be too. So there may a case for allowing them to claim a lower level of tax – but why complicate the issue? They can just find another way to invest (dividends can be paid gross into a wealth management-style wrapper account, such that tax is only paid when the monies are drawn down).

    The tax simplification people at work on this since 2010 really have failed miserably.

    1. libertarian
      September 24, 2019


      Excellent post . You are entirely right. This is a failure of government and the public sector to right clear unambiguous rules . It is also part of the trend to try to stop people being self employed or small companies because government want control over people

  46. margaret
    September 23, 2019

    I worked through 20 years of zero contracts following the rid of NHS to let overseas staff be employed.It is the most time consuming, depressing, stressful work there is. It doesn’t matter whether you have been a success at any one place, the permanent staff will blame you for their mistakes, travelling and trying to find places is soul destroying . One minute you are in charge of a hospital and the next day you are asked if you can do kindergarten type of work. You are never able to establish any sort of relationship and social life is non existent as weekend work to pay for the petrol to get to workplace assignments over rides meeting people and going places. Firms will drop you at promise of new workers being added to the books and the waste of skilled workers is deplorable. Work,time sheets, self updating , records of placements have to be done at home, coming home travelling for 2 hours and working for 10-12 . A different place of work every day means that the next days placement has to be researched to ensure you practice safely. When you have been blamed for something and were not even in the premises when the event occurred and dispute it with management , they won’t listen , when you write to the executive they say agency workers are not allowed an investigation .
    It works for some if you are’umble’

    1. a-tracy
      September 24, 2019

      margaret, we’re told the NHS is short of qualified nursing staff, why won’t they give you a contract of employment?

      If you are with an agency are you self-employed or an employee of the agency?

  47. Davek6
    September 23, 2019

    Government and T Cook executives have known for years that this company wasn’t sound so who exactly will be arrested and put in the dock for this debacle, who will answer for this. Am wondering if this is only the start of the way things will be post brexit, perhaps the government should hold onto these planes to bring the old retirees home from European locations? It’s hatd to believe that this T Cook could not have been wound down in an orderly manner over a few months..does everything in this country have to be a crash..and then what about the auditing accountants who sign off on companies like this? Will they also walk away?

  48. Julian Flood
    September 23, 2019

    Schools rely on supply teachers — flexible days of employment for those who can’t or don’t want to work full time.


    1. Robert mcdonald
      September 23, 2019

      Schools make sure their retired teachers have a cushy fall back to increase their pensions .. by making new teachers struggle to get permanent positions. Supply is a teacher union scam.

  49. margaret
    September 23, 2019

    rid of NHS staff, that is . Freudian slip there

  50. Dennis Zoff
    September 23, 2019

    John, as an aside…is there any truth in this assertion below?

    Source – Independence Daily…..

    …..It gets worse. Here’s proof that Johnson is preparing to present that May WA to the HoC, cosmetically tarted up, as we’ve been suspecting all along:

    “Eurosceptic Tory MPs who refuse to back a new Brexit deal face being kicked out, the Daily Mail understands. Amid rising hopes of a deal, close allies of Boris Johnson are drawing up detailed plans for a Commons showdown at the end of next month. They say the Prime Minister is prepared to take the whip away from any Brexiteer ‘Spartans’ who refuse to fall in line.”

    Reply No-one has communicated that to me and the government is well aware that it is not just the Backstop that causes problems. Labour seem to be confirming they would not vote for such an Agreement.

    1. APL
      September 23, 2019

      “Eurosceptic Tory MPs who refuse to back a new Brexit deal face being kicked out, the Daily Mail understands. ”

      Johnson does that, there won’t be a Parliamentary party left.

    2. Dennis Zoff
      September 23, 2019

      Reply to reply

      Thank you John…however, in other circles, it is creating anti-Johnson hysteria?

      The Brexit Party has taken note!

    3. Lemmy Saul
      September 24, 2019

      It is well known that Cummings has total contempt for the ERG. His revenge?

  51. Fred H
    September 23, 2019


    The average working week in the UK would be cut to 32 hours within 10 years under a Labour government, John McDonnell has announced. This would effectively reduce the average working week to four days – something the shadow chancellor claimed could be done with “no loss of pay”. The UK works longer hours than any other European country bar Greece. Mr McDonnell also promised to eliminate in-work poverty in the first term of a Labour government. He made the announcements at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton.

    A pipe-dream or the way forward?

  52. Instant Recall
    September 23, 2019

    ‘Four Day Working Week’~ Labour promises. That is what we were promised before we entered the Common Market/EU. Can’t they remember? Also a 30 hour week, not 32 as Labour is going for. Plus 9 weeks holiday per year.

  53. Kevin
    September 23, 2019

    These are some thoughts I have had on the subject:
    1) If your “employer” provides no training or continuous professional development, you should not be treated as an employee, and you should be taxed less;
    2) If your trade or profession is not unionised, and you are unable to take strike action in defence of your wages or your job, you should not be treated as an employee, and you should be taxed less;
    3) If you receive no benefits such as sick pay or, especially, a pension, you should not be treated as an employee, and you should be taxed less.
    In all of these situations I suggest you should be taxed less, because you have to provide for contingencies that are not otherwise addressed in these ways.

  54. Denis Cooper
    September 23, 2019

    Off topic, Michel Barnier has rejected the UK’s latest proposals to dispense with the Irish backstop, saying:


    “Let me therefore put it clearly that based on current UK thinking, it is difficult to see how we arrive at a legally operable solution that fulfils all the objectives of the backstop.”

    Well, actually the problem is EU thinking just as much as UK thinking.

    As explained ad nauseam, for example quite recently here:


    the EU should only concern itself with what crosses the border into its territory.

    “Off topic again, here is a reader’s letter in the Irish Times today:


    which is based on the false assumption that all the goods circulating everywhere in the UK must continue to comply with all relevant EU rules in order to prevent “cheap and shoddy merchandise” contaminating the 0.1% of UK GDP which is driven across the land border into the Irish Republic.

    As repeatedly pointed out, including in this letter published last September:


    “The legitimate interests of the EU and its Irish satrapy do not extend beyond the nature of the goods circulating in its own EU Single Market, and it is gross impudence on the part of the EU to presume that it should be able to continue to control goods permitted in the United Kingdom once we have freed ourselves from the EU, any more than the EU can expect to control goods permitted in the United States or other “third countries””

    Once Michel Barnier has come to terms with that reality I am sure he will see that a UK law to control what can be included in that 0.1% of UK GDP which is driven across the land border into the Republic will do an adequate job in protecting the EU Single Market from “cheap and shoddy merchandise”, or any other goods which do not comply with EU rules, so rendering otiose any routine checks on the Irish side of the border.

    1. margaret howard
      September 23, 2019


      “Well, actually the problem is EU thinking just as much as UK thinking.”

      No it isn’t. 15m English people out of a population of about 55m voted to leave. Not the Scots nor the Irish want to leave.

      So it is an English problem not that of the EU. When you leave a club you pay your dues and go. Break your promises and nobody will want to deal with you in the future.

      It seems to be a Brexiteer problem to blame everybody else for their misfortunes from the BBC, the Press, students, the EU, the Germans, French – and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

      1. Denis Cooper
        September 24, 2019

        And you have several problems with your thinking, as well.

      2. libertarian
        September 24, 2019


        Thinking you say, yet you’ve claimed that no Scots or Irish voted to leave …. really? Wales seems to have a majority for leaving too.

        All you needed to do Maggie was find more people in the UK to vote to remain but you failed big time. Thats why you lost and thats why we’re leaving

    2. Stred
      September 24, 2019

      It’s their problem. Let them solve it.

      1. Piet
        September 24, 2019

        Stred- who’s ‘them’- here you are staring down the barrel of a gun, looking over the abyss, staring into a wilderness? and you would still like to blame ‘them’ for your crooked thinking. UK has decided to leave the EU so it is up to UK to decide how to go about this. After UK leaves and depending on past form and at some time in the future I’m sure some other trade arrangement will be worked out, although I suspect it will be much later than earlier and after you’ve put together all of these new trade deals you’ve been promised with countries far away. In the meantime Farrage and Widdecombe et al will be ejected from the EU Parliament, what a relief that will be, and they’ll be scratching around somewhere wondering how they are going to fit in- again?? You cause a hard border in Ireland and there will be a hard border right across the european continent..makes sense

        1. Edward2
          September 24, 2019

          So many Project Fear cliches in the opening lines of your post Piet.
          It is up to the UK, but to achieve a deal there is another party involved and the EU refuses to alter their current position.
          The Withdrawal Agreement has been rejected by all sides of parliament three times and we are told the Speaker will not allow it to be brought out again a fourth time.
          So here we are deadlocked.
          It looks like the legal vote on Article 50 means we leave on October 31st.

  55. Arnie from Newington
    September 23, 2019

    The taxation of employees compared to the taxation of self employed and those who pay themselves by a combination of salary and dividends is horrendously expensive.

  56. libertarian
    September 23, 2019

    Oh dear Sir John, you’ve fallen for the claptrap

    Theres NO SUCH thing as a zero hour contract in employment law, all workers wether they work 1 hour or 40 have the same rights

    What we refer to as ZHC is what we used to call “piece work” for the last 100 years. Today the than 5% of workers are on flexible hours contracts 31% of them are Full Time Students , you know working a few hours per week in bars and restaurants mainly to help

    supplement their student loans. 61% of people on ZHC turned down the opportunity to work full time. Please explain how a wedding catering company for instance can offer people fixed hours per week , please explain how events and trade shows can offer people full time work when the events only happen a few times per year

    Its almost impossible to make someone self employed , even the self employed who want to be struggle. Theres a thing called IR35 which prevents it

    There are 812,000 unfilled full time jobs in the UK, anyone doing a so called ZHC has CHOSEN to do it

  57. Chris
    September 23, 2019

    Off topic, but I see that Boris has apparently declared again that he is not going to have anything to do with The Brexit Party:
    Boris Johnson has insisted there will be no election pact with Nigel Farage just days after Jacob Rees-Mogg said Brexiteers “owe him a great debt”.
    On Monday night, the Prime Minister said the Conservative Party will contest the election in every seat as he brushed off suggestions the Tories need the Brexit Party’s support in order to win….”

    Is this the arrogance that precedes the fall of the Cons Party? Boris only confirms Brexiteers’ worst fears: that he cannot be trusted and that he does not mean to deliver Brexit. It is what I felt from the beginning, but what treachery to gain votes in the leadership campaign by holding forth that he, unlike May, would actually honour Brexit and that if that meant No Deal then so be it. Nobody elected him to resurrect May’s deal and pretend that it represented Brexit. He apparently gained his leadership bid support under false pretences. Do the Conservatives actually have the faintest idea of how crippling a blow this is to their Party and to any remnant of trust that voters might have had in politicians?

    1. Lifelogic
      September 24, 2019

      Some Brexit Party accommodation is needed for a Conservative Majority but it is not yet quite time. One thing for sure is that the Hammond and the 21+ traitors must never be allowed to return. Indeed many others still need to go.

      Farage today said that he has never been more sure that we will be far better off leaving properly. I agree and the voters agree too. But will the judges and the establishment defeat them.

  58. Mike Wilson
    September 23, 2019

    The problem is caused by employers trying to avoid Employers’ National Insurance. Either abolish it or make employers pay NI on any money they spend on people doing work for them, regardless of their employment status.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 24, 2019

      People who work for themselves pay NI so why no make the rates the same for both employed and self employed. Fiscal neutrality is needed. Indeed NI is just disguised income tax anyway. So why not just combine them and have just the income tax at a higher rate.

      The main reason they do not is that splitting it up into three chunks (NI emp. NI employee and income tax) means people fail to realise they are actually paying circa 43% combined in tax (and this even just on basic rate 20% tax rates). Also they love pointless, costly, wasteful & hugely damaging pointless complexities.

  59. Vernon Riley
    September 24, 2019

    The rules should make some tests for “other economic activity”.
    The examples you give are real – and should be a valid way of a person making additional income to support the development of a business they wish to launch. There are other constraints of employment such as intellectual property being assumed to belong to the employer do not fit with launching a new business. The HMRC do not appear to understand these issues.

  60. Edwardm
    September 24, 2019

    I think the concept of zero hours is OK provided it is the same for both sides – the potential employee should be free to take on other contracts and to not guarantee availability without a retaining charge (e.g half rates) for an agreed number of hours.

    HMRC should take a much more flexible attitude to whether a contractual arrangement is on an employed or self employed or service company basis. I’d suggest a period of at least 3 years should be allowed before work is deemed to be on an employee basis.
    (In the electronics/software industry often companies want temporary people only for the life of a project which can often be for 2 to 3 years).
    Also the requirement to have to digitally present VAT accounts should be relaxed for businesses and individuals under £200,000 a year.

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