A freelance community has launched a petition to ban the nine-to-five in a bid to amplify a national conversation on a more modern view of working life.
Over 12,000 people from across the UK have signed the petition so far and the community behind it believe that this is just the beginning.
Karl Swanepoel, the Founder of the Caerphilly-based freelance marketplace Revolancer who launched the petition, said the aim was to set a marker to focus the conversation on the growing issue of work.
Karl said: “We need to redefine self-employment from an ‘alternative way of working’ and help people realise that it is a genuine route to sustainability.
“There’s a notion that employment is security – but you only have to look at the redundancy figures of the last 10 years to see that when things get tough, it’s the workers who get cut loose. We saw this in 2009 and in 2020. According to 2020 ONS data, in the UK redundancy shot up to 14.5 per 1,000 employees – a 300% increase. Whilst it has since levelled off it is gradually rising again, and this will only continue as automation ramps up.
“Slowly but surely people are realising that there is an alternative to employment. September 2023’s Labour Market Review found that the UK employment rate was estimated at 75.5% in May to July 2023, 0.5% lower than the quarter before with the decrease in employment mainly being driven by full-time self-employed workers. We believe this is the start of something, and we hope our petition can be a talking point for a wider conversation.”
The company, which is expecting to surpass 100,000 users in 2023, said many of its users turned to self-employment to take more control over their work-life balance.
Karl continued: “Your career should complement your life – not rule it. We’re not the first to say this and we won’t be the last, but the draconian nine to five, which was created almost 100 years ago, is just not fit for purpose.
“Nine to five was brought in to meet the needs at the time, where workers stood in factory lines to meet quotas. I think it’s fair to say the world is a bit different today – our processes, output and needs have changed – yet the structure for many has stayed the same.
“That’s at odds with the way the working world is currently set out. We as a society are finally discovering freedom and flexibility that still produce quality, yet outdated antiquities of work structure try to mould new into old.
“With the advancement of automation and AI, quite frankly, that is all coming to an end. We will see production and efficiency like never before, but it will require less – what some people would call – ‘work’. The mindset needs to change because the combination of technology, work styles and societal mindset is not currently in step with the traditional work structure.
“So that’s why we have launched this petition. Of course, we know one petition is not going to change the world – but we hope it can be the conversation starter. That someone might read it, sign it and share it. To talk about it with their colleagues and friends and plant that seed that can grow into real change – because that’s where it will happen. Not in the pale halls of parliament, but at the lunch tables and group chats of working individuals across the world.”