Two thirds of micro-businesses forced to work for free

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of UK micro-business owners have been forced to work for free at some stage in their career just to get a foot in the door, research finds.

A further fifth of entrepreneurs are approached to work for free every month and over half (53 per cent) are asked annually, according to a study by micro-business organisation Chorus.

When questioned further, an additional quarter (27 per cent) of those surveyed also felt that working for free was a necessary step when starting a business.

Others are less charitable with their services, with a quarter (25 per cent) saying they would never work for free, while one in five (20 per cent) say they had worked on free projects but thought it was unfair.

Micro-business owners point to large corporations and charities as the bodies most likely to ask them to work for free.

Jason Kitcat, micro-business ambassador for Chorus says that micro-businesses are a key driver of the UK economy, keeping the wheels of innovation and entrepreneurism turning, yet this research shows their skills are being undervalued and exploited.

‘Micro-businesses employ 8.4 million people and account for 96 per cent of all British businesses, yet too often they are being taken advantage of, on the promise of future publicity and business.

‘Working for free shouldn’t be necessary, the time and effort of micro-businesses should be valued like any other.

At Chorus we understand the importance of micro-business’ national economic contribution and we are campaigning for better protection of their rights,’ he adds.

Further reading on micro-businesses

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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