Thursday, February 07, 2013
In April to June 2012, there were an estimated 4.2 million people in the UK who were self-employed
in their main job, according to the Office for National Statistics (or 14% of the 29.4 million people in employment).
The average working week for a self-employed person was 38 hours, two hours more than the
average for employees. Self-employed people were also more likely than employees to work very
long hours with 35% working 45 hours or more per week compared with 22% of employees. Also,
13% of self-employed people worked 60 hours or more per week compared with 3% of employees.
In addition to these 4.2 million workers who were self-employed in their main job, in April to June
2012 there were a further 304,000 people who were not self-employed in their main job but had a
second job in which they were self-employed.
London, the South West, the South East and the East of England all had percentages of self-employed workers higher than the UK. London had the highest percentage with 18% of those in employment being selfemployed and the North East had the lowest with 11% of those in employment being self-employed.
There has been very little change in the top self-employed occupations over the last 20 years and in
2012 the four most common occupations were taxi/cab drivers and chauffeurs, ‘other’ construction
trades, carpenters/joiners and farmers.
The home is a place of work for some self-employed workers with 58% relying on their home to
carry out some or all of their working duties in 2012. 15% worked from their own home, 5% worked
on the same grounds or building as their home and 38% used their home as a base.
Employment, whether self-employed or as an employee, is most prevalent in thew 35 to 49 years category. For those who are self-employed, 1.6 million or 38% were in this age group. A further 1.4 million or 34% of the self-employed were in the age group 50 to 64 years.
As people get older they are far more likely, if in work, to be self-employed. Just 5% of young
people aged 16 to 24 who are working are self-employed compared with 37% of those aged 65
Focusing on changes between April to June 2008, the start of the 2008/09 recession, and the same
period in 2012, the number of self-employed people increased by 367,000 continuing a rising
trend. The rise in self-employment over this four year period happened against a backdrop of falling
numbers of people working as employees which fell by 434,000.
For the UK, while there has been an increase in the number of people who are self-employed there
has been a reduction in the number of employees who work for the self-employed. Between 2008
and 2012 there were 66,000 fewer people who were self-employed and had employees working for
them, with a 431,000 increase in people who were self-employed and worked solely on their own or
with a partner but specify they have no employees.
Between 2008 and 2012, the percentage of self-employed workers who were underemployed, i.e.
those who wanted to work more hours, increased from 6.4% to 10.8%. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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