What does a publisher do? Create work, outsource

What does a publisher do? is a series of posts designed to answer that question, interpreted not in the sense of “What functions does a publisher seek to fulfil?” but rather “What operations does a publisher (well, this publisher at any rate) perform?” This is the twelfth post in the series.

The second post (‘What does a publisher do? Manage stakeholders’) in this series set out a framework for subsequent posts – a framework based on the types of  stakeholders a publisher needs to work with. Today’s post focuses on management of interactions with one of the four ‘non-trading’ stakeholders included in the framework, namely the state. Thus:

Owners, investors WORKFORCE State
Clients, customers

Managing our workforce is not difficult, because we don’t have one! That is, we don’t have anyone on our payroll, other than ourselves (the company’s two directors). 

The reason for that is that the state penalises companies for employing people. Were we to take someone on, we would not only have to pay national insurance  – we would also incur numerous liabilities.

For example, imagine that we recruited a production manager, working from their own home. We would be responsible for their health and safety in their workplace. How can we ensure that? We could visit their home to inspect it. But would they want us crawling over their home? And even if we found it safe, what about the next day – would we have to visit again? Perhaps we should simply move in with them.

I’m not saying that we would never employ anyone. We have considered doing so in the past; perhaps we will do so in the future.

We do, of course, employ the services of several freelancers, many of them on a repeat basis. But we do so by outsourcing, the advantage of which is not simply that it enables us to avoid the state’s penalties for employing staff: it also provides us (and our suppliers) with flexibility and respects their own desire, in many cases, for the independence of self-employment.

This requires vigilance in order to ensure that one is not inadvertently entering into an employment relationship. The state makes clear that the question of whether one is employing someone does not depend on what the parties involve believe or desire: it depends on the objective facts of the case. Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue’s website provides a summary of the criteria.

I can understand why the state would wish to regulate and penalise some activities on the part of business. Polluting the environment, for example. But giving someone a job?


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