Freelancer vs Employee – the Pros and Cons

Be your own boss, work your own hours, choose your own biscuit selection – there’s no doubt about it, working for yourself is a very appealing notion and one that is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The only problem is there is just a little more to consider than the above benefits – substantial though they may be.

Having a contract at an established firm provides a host of benefits that going it alone may lack – which is probably why not everyone goes down the self-employed route. Undoubtably, some industries and personalities will suit one format more than the other, but what are the main advantages and disadvantages to consider?

Let’s take a look.


Freelancing – is it really as good as it sounds?

Freelancing means working on a contract by contract basis and essentially running your own business, even if you are operating as an individual. If you choose to go it alone, you’ll be responsible for sourcing work, negotiating pay and hours, as well as managing your own finances—including paying tax and national insurance.

Flexibility is the biggest advantage to being your own boss. You can take on as much work as you need/want and often work the hours that suit you. Being in charge also means you reap all the rewards as your business grows – something by no means guaranteed when you are an employee.

In many ways, freelancing also alleviates a lot of common workplace anxieties – dealing with office gossip or having to avoid the boss, for example. But it also brings potential stresses that many people may not feel comfortable with: irregular payments, uncertainty and lack of in-work benefits, such as sick pay. These issues require careful consideration by someone who is organised enough to financially pre-empt any potential storms.

There are also social implications to consider. Staying clear of office politics may help reduce your stress levels, but if you never feel part of the team, being a freelancer could prove an isolating experience.


  • Flexibility
  • Potential for big rewards
  • Lack of workplace anxiety


  • Extra Paperwork
  • Uncertainty
  • Less social inclusion


Signing your life away – Is employment the safe option?

Working as a company employee does mean that you will, to some extent, be singing to someone else’s tune.  You might be able to have some influence over your hours and responsibilities, but ultimately the decisions will be made by your boss.

It also means however, that you will have a certain degree of stability that doesn’t come with being self employed. For one thing, it means you can plan your finances, holidays and purchases with a degree of predictability – which is a pretty big selling point.

The other major benefit of being on the books is paid leave. No one likes getting sick, but it is a whole lot worse if you are losing money too. Holidays are also a lot more expensive if you aren’t getting paid for your time off. This is one area in which being an employee beats being self-employed.  Most employers will also offer on the job training, which can be a great CV builder.

One final consideration with being an employee is that your progression and earnings are not entirely in control. The success of the company you work for may not always be reflected in your pay packet and promotion may depend on the recommendation of a manager or supervisor.


  • Financial Stability
  • Paid Leave
  • Training


  • Answering to the boss
  • Less flexibility
  • Potentially fewer long-term rewards.


So, both have their advantages and pitfalls. Whichever you choose, it’s important to be fully aware of the implications for your future, both personally and professionally. As mentioned, certain industries, such as writing or the creative arts, lend themselves well to freelancing. So think carefully before taking the plunge!


Inspiring Interns is a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit their website.