Four years ago I gave up the best-paid job I'd ever had. It took me a long time to decide to leave my full-time position at a university but I finally realised that I wasn't in the job I wanted. I was burnt out from the daily grind of London commuting and I was ready to change my life. So, despite the terrible UK economy, I decided to leave the security of my job behind including my good salary, holiday entitlement, maternity cover and sick pay. I had been learning to make jewellery and I wanted the time and space to do more to develop that into a business. I knew, however, that I would need other sources of income as I did this and I was glad to find two. I have a part time 'gig' job teaching jewellery making for a private college where I am self-employed and do not get holiday or sick pay. I also have a zero hours contract teaching part time at an adult education college during term time.
My chosen way of working may now be under threat after the landmark tribunal ruling that Uber drivers cannot be deemed 'self-employed' and I fear the repercussions. I took a £30,000 a year pay cut in order to live the way I want to live. I love and enjoy my teaching work and my current work-life balance. I don't understand why I should not get to choose the type of contract I enter into with my employer - why should the unions and courts decide for me? I'm not a child that needs to be told what's best for me.
Despite the limitations of these jobs over my previous full-time work, I value what I have gained by having them and have never looked back. My jobs have given me the opportunity to free up the time to live and work as I want and I am completely in charge of my own time. I can say no to work, take time off when I want to and swap my working hours with others.
At the time I gave up my full-time job I didn't realise that I had a health condition, hypothyroidism, that was affecting my energy levels. I take medication for this now but have been told by my doctor my energy levels will never be the same as if I didn't have it. Now that I have flexibility in my work I have been able to rest when I need to and take working hours later in the day which has helped me feel human again.
If my 'gig' employer has to change the way they employ their staff because of this ruling there are two possible outcomes - either they won't be able to continue in business and I will lose that income or they will have to employ less staff. Either way, my precious flexibility will be gone.
If workers at Uber or other similar employers are being mistreated then there should be repercussions for them, however banning my right to enter into a mutual agreement with an employer makes no sense to me. It could leave me without work and dependent on the state or in a job without the flexibility I've voluntarily given up £30,000 for.
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