No Safety Net: The Hidden Risks of Self-Employment

Dawn Nelson
8 min readSep 30
Photo by Ahmed Jubair on Unsplash

Everyone’s talking about being a digital nomad, moving abroad and working a four-day week. Or chucking their jobs and making money online full-time.

But have you really thought about what you’re actually signing up for?

Working for yourself is great in some ways and not so good in others. I should know. I’ve been working for myself for the last few years.

And, yes, I love that I choose my own hours and can go off to a matinee at a theatre in Glasgow at the drop of a hat (as I did on Thursday — Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None at the Theatre Royal, in case you were wondering).

However, here are the things that I don’t like about working for myself…

1. No vacation pay

When I worked for both public and private organisations and companies, I was paid to take my holidays. Working for myself, I don’t get paid, so I have to work like a dog at least two weeks before I want to take that time off to ensure my work is done and I still get paid the same at the end of the month. Is that something you’re prepared to do?

Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

2. Blurred work-life balance

Everyone thinks you get a better work-life balance when you work for yourself and you do to a certain extent. You don’t work any less (unless you’re extremely lucky and have worked out how to do this), in fact I find I work more. I try not to work on the weekends because I burned myself out doing this last year, but as I want to take a week off soon (to concentrate on getting my extremely untidy garden in order) I’m back to working weekends. It’s fine. I really like my work (I do several different things) and it’s easy to do it whilst sitting on the sofa with the tv on in the background. I also answer emails outside normal office times. I shouldn’t, but I do.

3. Sick leave

Self-employed people don’t get paid for sick leave, so you find yourself trying to get work finished even if you’re suffering from Covid or a nasty stomach bug. Anything more serious and it’s bye-bye wage packet. I could take out…

Dawn Nelson

Award-winning author, journalist, copywriter.