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Protecting Yourself When You’re Self-employed

When you’re self-employed, protecting you and your business should be a priority. You should make sure you can keep things running safely from one day to the next. It’s also wise to be prepared, like if a customer makes a claim against you or an illness puts you out of work.

From health and safety to key types of business insurance, FSB explains the different things to think about to keep you and your business as safe and protected as you can.

Keeping you and your customers safe 

In many lines of work for the self-employed, from being a mobile hairdresser or florist to an interior designer or landscape gardener, accidents can happen. This could be an injury to yourself, like a designer tripping over some loose carpet in their home office, or a hairdresser catching the ear of a customer when cutting their hair.

Carrying out risk assessment 

It’s important to have an idea of the likelihood that you, or someone else, could be harmed as a result of your work. This could be a client, customer or a member of the public.

You should assess the work you do and decide if it creates a risk to you and others. To do this, it’s a good idea to carry out a risk assessment and look at the level of risk different things might create. You could range from the layout of your home office to the equipment you use.

Putting together a health and safety policy

Once you’re aware of the risks, high or low, it’s a good idea to keep a note of them and put together a health and safety policy. In this, you can show how you have thought about your company’s health and safety.

You can also include what you will do to improve it, like reorganising your studio or buying high-quality equipment. A mobile hairdresser, for instance, could fit a safety guard to their clippers to help prevent accidental cuts from happening when styling a customer’s hair.

Keeping you and your business protected 

Another important part of protection when you’re self-employed is having the right business insurance. It’s a good idea to think about what will happen if you can’t work because of injury of illness. For instance, if you’re working for yourself you won’t get sick pay.

It’s a good idea to look into purchasing a type of personal insurance. You should also think about protecting yourself against any claims that might be made by your customers and competitors. Some types of insurance to think about buying, include:

Personal insurance 

There are a range of personal insurance options to consider if you’re self-employed. This includes long-term insurance policies, like income protection and critical illness cover.

Income protection is a policy that can support you if you can’t work because you’re sick or injured. It’s sad thinking that a serious illness might happen to you, but it’s a good idea to be protected in case one does. Critical illness insurance helps with this and usually involves you being paid out a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, like cancer.

Public liability insurance

This covers you if the public, your clients or customers suffer an injury or their property become damaged, because of your business.

This might include a customer injuring themselves after tripping over a step in a florist’s shop. Or it could involve a passer-by being injured by signage falling on them outside a beautician’s hair salon.

Professional indemnity insurance

This protects you against issues involving the services you provide. This includes things like negligence or copyright infringement.

An example could be a competitor claiming a freelance graphic designer’s infringed copyright of their work. Or negligence could be a customer claiming a fitness instructor has caused them a serious back injury.

Product liability insurance

This insurance is concerned with the products you sell, like if a customer becomes ill or injured after buying one of your products.

This might include a customer buying a snack from a cook’s mobile sandwich shop, which gives them food poisoning. Or a hair product a customer buys from their stylist, which seriously damages their hair.

Employers’ liability insurance

If you do (or decide to) employ one or more members of staff, even if they work for you part time, you should legally have this cover. It covers claims made by your employees, such as them becoming injured because of some work they do for you.

An example could be an interior decorator’s assistant falling off a ladder when painting a living room wall, which results in them injuring their leg.

Other things to think about to keep yourself protected

There’s a lot to think about when you’re self-employed to keep you and your business safe. But doing these things can help. It’s also worth doing your research to look at health and safety policy templates and risk assessments. You can then use these to improve the safety of your business. Also, keep on top of health and safety news and regulations in case things like changes in legislation are made that might apply to you.

If you hire someone to work for you, even part time, it’s a good idea to revisit your health and safety policy, just to make sure it covers everything it should. Also, think about having an accident book, so you can log any accidents if they happen. This way you can look into preventing them from happening again right away, while making sure your business health and safety is in the best shape it can be.

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