David Tattersall of Handpicked Accountants has crucial advice if you’re a working dad thinking of going self employed in 2020 to achieve the work life balance you want.
The volatile, yet rewarding nature of working as a self-employed professional can prove to be a lucrative career path or a disheartening challenge, depending on your appetite for risk and flair for being your own boss. As a parent, whether employed or self-employed, work-life flexibility whilst caring for a young child is a necessity. If an emergency was to arise, being able to leave everything and attend to the situation is vital. Whilst many employers may be understanding, a handful may act sternly towards you which in reality should not be the case as your employer should act reasonably.
As a self-employed parent, you may desire a greater level of freedom to be able to spend more time with your children. By working for yourself, you can structure your workload around their lives, ensuring that you’re on hand for the drop-offs, pick-ups, doctor’s appointments and parent’s evenings.
Where traditional employment restricts you to the typical 9 to 5, self-employment sets no restrictions besides for the ones you set yourself, allowing you to get down to business wherever and whenever that you please. It can be tempting to work around the clock and easily allow your work to seep into family time so it’s vital to ensure that you keep a healthy work-life balance to maintain motivation.
Maintaining the books, juggling children and earning a living can leave you with no extra time left for self-care. To better juggle your time and duties as a father, consider seeking the services of a specialist accountant to take the weight of administrative tasks off your shoulders. There are specialist accountants experienced with working with one-man bands, self-employed professionals and contractors who can prepare and submit your financial paperwork to HMRC, releasing you from one more job.
In an ideal circumstance, you would expect your employer to be understanding and authorise leave in the event of an emergency relating to a dependent, such as a spouse or child. Legally speaking, you are allowed reasonable time off to care for your child. However, your employer can decide whether this will be on a paid or unpaid basis. If you require time off for a prolonged period, your employer may request for you to take annual leave or parental leave which is leave taken on an unpaid basis.
If you have prior knowledge of an appointment which clashes with work, you should act reasonably and inform work beforehand. An ‘emergency’ includes the likes of disruption to care arrangements, illness, injury or an incident at school with your child. You are also legally entitled to request flexible working arrangements if this better suits your needs, such as working from home.
If this feels like a shortfall of flexibility, you may decide that self-employed working is your preferred working style as it allows you to dictate your own hours, location of work and annual leave, without the overhead of an employer.
Self-employed professionals are not eligible for the same rights of an employee as they are not entitled to statutory paternity pay and paternity leave. If you are expecting to take time off to care for your spouse and newborn baby, you may consider careful financial planning and re-adjusting the amount that you pay yourself to cover paternity leave.
The limited number of protections that are in place for contractors, freelancers and the wider self-employed workforce is a question raised by many and covered in the Matthew Taylor Report which urges for greater protections for gig economy workers. As a freelancer and due to the volatile pattern of receiving income, you may consider taking out insurance such as professional indemnity, income protection and tax investigation & IR35 insurance.
Although the limited rights of working as a freelancer can be challenging, this path of working can be financially rewarding and grant you more work-life flexibility, equating to a quality life with your family, allowing you to make new memories. Freelancers are typically paid at a higher rate than employees and you are not bound by the same employment rules which dictate your working hours, workload and how you work.
The juggling act may be challenging but the satisfaction of making it work and the returns can be enough to keep you operating in this manner, making the best of both worlds – fatherhood and self-employment.
This article is written by David Tattersall of Handpicked Accountants, an intelligent platform connecting trustworthy, local accountants with contractors, freelancers and the self-employed workforce.