This article is written by Quin Hoskins. Having studied law and several science-related subjects at degree level, this has provided him with the perfect foundation to cover an eclectic range of topics in his freelance writing career. From the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs to countless travel sites, he is proud to be associated with companies and organizations that are definitely at the top of their game. The flexibility of his freelance writing business allows him to devote a significant proportion of his time to study and is finishing his last course – out of 6 – towards his LLB (Hons) this year. He is also an avid traveler and has proudly visited 40 other countries to date, with much more planned for the future.
Gone are the days where I would wake up one dreary morning with a sniffling cold and think to myself that I would take a well-earned day off from work and revel in the fact that my employer would be picking up the bill. Oh no! By working as a freelancer, those days were well and truly behind me.
Before we progress any further, let’s all agree, here and now, that you do get sick from time to time. It is worth noting that healthcare professional freelancers are often exposed to far more potential to fall ill. Therefore, the advice in this blog may prove to be particularly useful for you. Here's what freelancers can do when they get sick.
Don’t Make Things Worse
If you simply wake up and feel a little under the weather, whereas you may have been inclined to call in sick in the days when you worked for an employer, this is the time you need to battle on and get on with things. Hopefully, it is merely a little sniffle, and you should be back to 100 per cent tomorrow.
However, if you feel you are genuinely becoming sick and are way beyond a simple sniffle, it is imperative you respect what your body is telling you and come away from your work. At this stage, battling on through will only make things worse and will ultimately mean a longer period of convalescence to get over whatever dreaded illness you contracted.
Planning For Periods Such As These
As a freelancer, there are some ways in which you can prepare for such dreaded possibility. At least this way, you will have far less stress and anxiety over dealing with an illness if it strikes.
You should plan for the eventuality of a more serious illness that goes beyond a few days. This is where we need to hope that our clients will show real compassion and empathy; and to be fair, in my experience, most will. It is always a good idea to prepare some templates for emails that can be effortlessly sent out to any clients whose deadlines are likely to be affected by your illness.
The emails should simply state that you are currently out of action due to a serious illness and you may also like to inform the client that a trusted colleague (who may just be a friend or family member) will be on hand to answer any questions throughout the time of your illness. Make it clear that this colleague may not know the full details of this particular project (this part is important), but that they will do their utmost to be of assistance. This will often gently prevent the client from pestering you or your colleague for the time being. Make it clear in the email that the customer will be updated regularly on your progression.
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Outsourcing to a Trusted Colleague
During your everyday life as a medical freelancer, you will encounter numerous other people who are in the same position as you and will appreciate whom you can trust to take on some of your work if you ever become ill. This is an important contingency to establish beforehand, and it makes sense to have this serious conversation with a couple of other trusted individuals in advance. This will become a reciprocal agreement: one that benefits both parties as you will equally help them with their workload if they ever fall ill.
The Financial Implications of Your Illness
In the vast majority of countries, we have to keep a percentage of our earnings back to pay for income tax and other state insurance taxes. Therefore, from the very start of your freelancing career, it may be a good idea for you to put back an extra 2% - 3% of your overall income. This could be used as your sick pay if you have been put out of action for a period that has impacted your earnings for that month.
This money will continue to accrue over time, and if you manage to save at a rate of 3% of your earnings, on an annual income of $20,000, this will give you a reliable buffer of $1,200 in just 24 months, before any interest payments accumulate on top. This amount of money will mean a huge difference to you if you are ever sick and will help to alleviate that stress and anxiety of falling ill in the first place.
Are You Entitled to Income Protection?
There are insurance schemes in place to protect freelancers from extended periods of sickness, and this is another possibility you may wish to investigate.
Sickness is always a real worry for freelancers. Everyone feels that you simply cannot stop working as a freelancer and that you will have to battle on through sickness. This is not the case. It is so important you plan for the contingencies suggested above and if you can follow the advice and set 2% - 3% of your wages to one side, this really will make a vast difference to you if you fall ill in the future.
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