The days of everyone of working age being an employee has long gone. I spent years as an employee and while I miss the regular income, the holiday pay, sickness benefit and pension scheme (not to mention the gossip in the ladies’ loo, which at one newspaper I worked out was usually full of women crying after being screamed at by some sweaty bloke or another), the freedom of being your own boss is great.
What has changed in recent years is that there are more categories of employees/contractors/freelancers than before, what with the ‘gig’ economy and the now-common zero hour contracts. There are nearly a million of workers on zero hour contracts in the UK and the rights and wrongs of them aren’t up for debate here – but they are probably with us to stay so we had better get used to them. Given that, the finance world needs to adjust to this. But try to get a personal loan, credit card or mortgage when you are on a zero hour contract and you’ll probably hit a brick wall. It’s the uncertainty of income which puts them off, I presume.
Yet apparently many of those on zero hour contracts have worked for the same employer for more than two years and a third work full time hours: so they aren’t that different from usual employees in those ways. One mortgage lender, Ipswich Building Society, is now allowing creditworthy zero hour contract workers access to its mortgage deals. Workers will need to prove 18 months’ work history, a P60 and three months’ payslips. But watch out for mortgage affordability though: unless you are on a fixed rate deal you are at risk of rising rates if the Bank of England eventually puts base rate up – which is going to happen one day, surely. With a less secure employment position, that’s got to be a consideration. See our guide to getting on the housing ladder here.