A report has revealed that freelancers working within creative industries suffer an average loss of £5,394 per person per year from unpaid work.
Research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) and the Freelancer Club found that within the last two years those surveyed spent an average of 31 chargeable days unpaid.
As a result, many freelancers were unable to cover work-related expenses or even basic living costs.
The report was launched as part of the #NoFreeWork campaign, created by IPSE and the Freelancer Club in order to combat exploitative free work of freelancers where clients benefit financially.
The majority of respondents (44%) fell in the 16-29 age bracket. However, the average age worked out at 33 with an average of seven years’ experience in their field, revealing it wasn’t lack of experience that forced freelancers to complete unpaid work.
“This Practice is devaluing our creative industries”
It was also revealed that a large number of those undertaking unpaid work were female, with 67% of women admitting to having worked for free.
The report also found that 54% of those surveyed had worked for free in a bid to gain exposure, 45% had worked for free in order to be associated with a reputable brand and 20% described working for free as standard practice within their industry.
Commenting on the issue, IPSE chief executive Chris Bryce said: “This practice is devaluing our creative industries.
“Government needs to fast-track the appointment of a small business commissioner, who can give people someone to turn to. We’re not talking about people donating their time to charities. If a business is profiting financially from someone’s work then they deserve to be paid.”
Matt Dowling, director at The Freelancer Club, commented: “I know from personal experience how common it is for big companies to expect freelancers to offer their time and skills for free.
“But this is a message for freelancers as much as it is for businesses who are taking them on. When you agree to work for free, and the client makes a monetary profit from this free work, you risk creating a race to the bottom that undermines daily rates of pay for the whole industry.”