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Majority of self-employed like being their own boss – survey

The majority of self-employed workers say they prefer their current situation to being an employee, according to the findings of a new poll.

But those who took self-employment status during the economic downturn are more than twice as likely to wish they were still in traditional employment.

Research from independent think tank The Resolution Foundation, conducted by Ipsos MORI, found that nearly a third of those who started out as self-employed in the last five years would prefer to be employees – the so-called ‘reluctant recruits’.

Of self-employed people who chose to go it alone before the recession, only one in ten wishes they weren’t their own boss.

The reports authors say the number of self-employed people has risen steadily over the past five years, and a significant minority of those who started out during this period would, given the choice, rather work for someone else.

The new survey challenges common assumptions about Britain’s growing army of self-employed workers.

“On the one hand it shows that, contrary to suggestions that the new self-employed are in this position unwillingly – 72 per cent say they prefer their current situation to being an employee,” says the report.

“However, the research also shows that those who became self-employed in the past five years are much more likely to say they’d prefer to work for someone else (28 percent compared to 11 percent of those who have been self-employed for five years or more).”

Conor D’Arcy, researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK has had impressive employment growth over recent months, a sizeable proportion of which has been driven by an explosion in self-employment. That’s why it’s vital we know more about these new self-employed workers.

“Some will see themselves as entrepreneurs and revel in setting up their own business – the clear majority still prefer to be their own boss – but a considerable minority appear to be there unwillingly or at least would prefer the security of being an employee given the choice.”