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FEATURE ARTICLE 1: INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
Men were more likely to be independent contractors, with 12% of employed men working as independent contractors in their main job, compared with 5% of women, and across all age groups there were proportionally more men who were independent contractors than women. Consequently, men made up the majority of independent contractors (75%). Around half of independent contractors (50% of men and 58% of women) were aged 35-54 years.
The proportion of independent contractors increases with age, with just 3% of 15-24 year old employed people working as independent contractors, compared with 20% of those aged 65 years and over (graph 8.24). This indicates that once people pass the traditional retirement age, they may move from being in employee positions to operating their own businesses, for example, as consultants. This may be due to their ability as independent contractors to choose the hours and conditions under which they work, particularly as part of a transition to retirement.
Occupation and industry
Male independent contractors were most likely to be Technicians and trades workers, with over one third (36%) employed in this occupation (graph 8.25). In comparison, 24% of the total male employed population were Technicians and trade workers. Female independent contractors were more likely to be Professionals, with 32% of female independent contractors working in this occupation, compared with 24% of the total female employed population who were employed as Professionals.
Male independent contractors were most likely to be found operating their business in the Construction industry, with over two fifths (41%) working in that industry (graph 8.26). Almost two thirds (62%) of these men were employed as Technicians and trade workers, and a further 17% as Labourers. The highest proportion of female independent contractors was found in the Professional, scientific and technical services industry (23%), with over half (52%) of these women working as Professionals and over one third (34%) working as Clerical and administrative workers. It should be noted that the industry of independent contractors reflects the industry of the independent contractors' business, rather than the industry of their client.
The working hours of independent contractors in their main job varied from other forms of employment. The average usual hours worked by male independent contractors was 44 hours per week, which was higher than that of employees (41 hours), but lower than that of male other business operators (49 hours). Female independent contractors, however, worked fewer hours (27 hours) than both female employees and other business operators (both 33 hours) (graph 8.27).
People who operate their own business tend to work longer hours than those who are employees. Over one third (36%) of male independent contractors and over half (53%) of male other business operators usually worked 49 hours or more, compared with just 18% of employees. Like men, female other business operators were most likely to work longer hours, with over one fifth (21%) usually working 49 hours or more per week.
The days on which independent contractors worked varied from those engaged in other forms of employment. Over half (55%) of male independent contractors worked weekdays only. In contrast, over two thirds (69%) of employees and less than half (43%) of other business operators worked weekdays only. Female independent contractors were more likely than male independent contractors to work on weekdays only, with two thirds (66%) working only on weekdays. Like men, a large proportion (70%) of female employees worked weekdays only, while about half (51%) of other business operators worked weekdays only (graph 8.28).