The dependently self-employed: A study to define and understand their work situation and income security
This study focused on a growing segment of the non-standard workforce, the dependently self-employed (DSE). Twenty-six participants (22 women and 4 men) in own-account, knowledge based, self-employment who derive the majority of their income from one primary source were interviewed about their work conditions and relationship with their primary client, their reasons for entering and remaining in dependent self-employment, and their income stability and desire for access to income protections. An analysis of participants' status as self-employed revealed that 57.6% would probably be reassessed by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) as employees. The majority of participants were identified as having been pushed into self-employment (57.6%) due to job loss, recession/limited job opportunities or job demand changes/restructuring of a job. In many cases, several factors of push and pull had operated jointly to affect participants' work options. Overall, participants were very satisfied with their status as DSE, citing enhanced flexibility to balance work/family obligations, money, autonomy and the opportunity for challenging work. This particular sample reported high levels of income stability as a result of high business and household incomes, although situations of income precariousness were identified. While participants highly valued their independence as self-employed individuals, many participants also expressed a desire for access to social security benefits such as sickness benefits (53.8%) and maternity/parental leave benefits (57.7%) as administered through Employment Insurance.