Freelancer in the creative industries? Now more than ever, join and get active in a union

17 June 2022

This National Freelancers’ Day, my message to any freelancer working in the creative sector is clear: the best investment you can make in your career is to join a union.

As we continue towards recovering from the pandemic and amidst persistent ideological attacks on some of the UK’s most beloved cultural and creative institutions, as well as worrying abuses of workers’ rights, being part of a union is critical.

Bectu – the union for freelancers

As a union representing thousands of freelancers in the creative industries, Bectu consistently fights for a fair deal for self-employed workers and freelancers.

We represent over 20,000 people working as freelancers in the creative industries. Our members include people who are self-employed, casual workers and those who are on zero-hours contracts working across film, television, theatres and live events.

As the union for creative ambition, Bectu has your back. We know how critical freelancers are to the creative industries. Indeed, freelancers make up the bulk of our membership and this makes us uniquely placed to understand and fight for the issues that matter to you, and make sure Government and industry understand these too.


The Covid-19 crisis brought freelancer issues into sharp focus, as well as the precarious nature of our industry as a whole. Most of you know only too well the crippling impact of the pandemic, and we know many of you continue to battle insecure and erratic work, with a host of summer festivals cancelled earlier this month.

The pandemic devastated nearly all of the industries Bectu has members in. Hundreds of you shared your stories with us, and while the statistics were stark, it was the personal stories that kept me awake at night.

Bectu officials worked flat-out gathering information that revealed a troubling picture of people desperate for help and with nowhere to turn. The Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis was unprecedented but it also exposed a lack of knowledge about how some parts of the economy operate in practice. Our knowledge and experience helped us truly represent our members when it mattered most.

Via persistent campaigning and engagement at all levels of Government, we’re proud to have helped thousands of members keep their jobs during Covid, and helped freelancers liaise with the Government on SEISS.

Support and protection

The creative industries are full of incredible people who bring so much to the UK’s economy and our social and cultural fabric. However, there’s no denying that working as a freelancer in these industries can be challenging.

Bectu is here to give you protection, independent advice and bespoke support, from financial advice on the right pay rate for your job to our comprehensive guide on how to pay tax as a freelancer, to advice on your employment rights, to mental health resources and support.

We also run a series of industry-recognised courses with discounted rates for our members, including vocational courses and workshops aimed at boosting business skills for freelancing, such as setting up a website and online self-marketing.

Join a community

It’s said a lot, but it really is true – we are stronger together. The more members we have, the stronger our collective voice is to lobby for much-needed changes and meet the challenges that freelancers have been dealing with for too long.

It’s not just the union itself that will support you. By joining Bectu you will have access to a host of networks, events and opportunities to learn from and engage with people working in the industry who face the same challenges you do.

We also maintain close links with a host of groups and organisations who are committed to improving freelancers’ working lives, working together to create a coordinated approach to tackling the big issues that self-employed and freelance workers face.

Our members are the backbone of the creative industries and we will do everything we can to help them thrive in their careers. If you’ve been thinking about joining a union, now is the time to do so.

We can’t fully anticipate what future challenges might be ahead, or what sort of attitude the government of the day might take to the creative industries and their workforces. But together, we can continue ensuring that you have a voice, and that that voice is heard.

So my message to you on National Freelancers’ Day is to add your voice to the tens of thousands that already make up Bectu. Continue those conversations in your workplaces and with your friends, family and colleagues who work in the creative industries.

Join Bectu today, and make your voice count.