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Freelancers hit hard by corona pandemic — reduced pay and work, few have sought financial support for sole entrepreneurs

The corona pandemic has hit freelancers where it hurts, in their wallets and work. A UJF survey conducted over April-May has revealed that as a result of the pandemic income has decreased ‘a lot’ for 43 per cent of respondents and ‘somewhat’ for 24 per cent.

For two-thirds of respondents the amount of work they get has decreased: ‘a lot’ in the case of 39 per cent and ‘somewhat’ for 27 per cent.

“Stark figures”, remarked Hannu Hallamaa, lawyer for self-employed and freelancers at the UJF. “More than half of respondents have had gig work cancelled.”

Hallamaa said that work cancellations have especially hit journalists and photographers covering sports.

Loss of journalistic work is often offset by doing totally different jobs. Respondents reported getting income for such things as taxi driving or selling their possessions.

The survey also looked at whether employers have been asking for lower rates of pay due to the pandemic. Only one in ten (or 100 percent) of respondents reported that this had happened to them.

Too few apply for support

Nearly 23 per cent of respondents have applied for financial support for sole entrepreneurs from TE (work and business) services. Only four per cent had received the €2 000 assistance for sole entrepreneurs granted by local municipalities.

“Way too few have applied for this aid, which should definitely be taken advantage of”, stressed Hallamaa.

The union regularly posts reminders for members on social media and the union website about opportunities for apply for financial support and grants.

Only about two per cent of the survey respondents have applied for business support from Business Finland. Relatively many respondents, 29 per cent, have applied for various types of grant.

The UJF online survey covered freelancer’s work situation from 23 April to 5 May, and included 275 respondents.