Why companies and workers are opting for freelance status

Friday November 1 2019

Freedom.  Leilah Nakabira, a freelance

Freedom. Leilah Nakabira, a freelance filmmaker and quantitative economist, says freelance is the way to go. Photo by Gabriel Buule 

By Gabriel Buule

Freelance is a term used to refer to a nature of employment where workers independently provide a service to whoever they feel like at a fee.

Some companies cite legal measures to keep staff numbers low to avoid the mandatory benefits given to fulltime workers. This has made many people opt to freelance.
Richard Ssempala, an Economist, says in an economy where workers earn less, people look to be flexible and maximise their income.

---“Freelance offers a win – win situation for both the employer and the workers. Freelancers get to earn from several projects and employers can easily follow up on the out-put since the contracts can easily be revoked and it is cost saving that freelancers are excluded from workers benefits like insurance.”

Better results
Immaculate Tuhaise, a project manager and planner, explains that the economy is transforming the way people work in Uganda.

She says work and the workplace no longer mean office, noting that many people stay in homes or personal offices to do much better work than those who go to offices.
However, Tuhaise says with the off-site kind of work, companies are increasingly opting to hire individuals as consultants and freelance workers as opposed to permanent employees.

Dorothy Nabunjo, a business owner, says much as she hires both freelancers and staff, she says the numbers of staff employees are always less.
“I would hire both permanent staff to coordinate the office operations but much interest is on the freelance since they can multi-task and their productivity is reliable unlike the staff who are safe with their monthly payments,” says Nabunjo.

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Nabunjo says it is no longer cost effective to keep people around offices since it comes with financial implications as well taxes.
Tuhaise says the rise in freelancing is attributed to the increasing job scarcity where people have chosen to ditch formal employment and trade their skills.

Win-win situation
She says it is a move that is embraced by most employers since it is largely a win-win from both sides.
“Companies save more with contractors and risks are low. For the workers, they use freelancing to generate more income” Tuhaise adds.

Dianah Najjemba, an International business scholar, explains that both employers and workers may not want to go the freelance route but many employers may prefer the implied commitment that goes along with a full-time employee though it comes with cost implications.

She, however, notes that most workers still prefer full-time permanent (staff) status given job security that comes with benefits such as health insurance and a retirement fund.
However, Najjemba says with freelance, when an employer considers cutting benefits like health insurance and retirement, as well as Social Security, the company gets more returns.

“In the case where a worker is freelance, you reduce the need for office space and lower your office supply costs,” Najjemba adds.
She warns that for freelancer approach, a company risk losing client relationship since staff employees are aware of everything in the company and are most times able to build relationships with clients.

What employers, employees say

“I would prefer staff workers, simply because of consistency and reliability, and assurance of working on similar terms, which is not the case with freelancers. there is always need to draft new terms every time you pick up a worker. Staff workers require a lot of benefits but that’s a worthy price to pay for great results at work,” Milly Nassolo, Employer

“In most cases, everyone needs to be staff but the horror is that many companies don’t respect their promises. Freelancers run their own business. While staff members’ performance may have ups and lows. freelancers’ contract is always subject to renewal unlike the staff, and this may always leave them at the mercy of the boss,” Faridah Nassereka, Employee

gbuule@ug.nationmedia.com

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