New Chorus research finds two thirds of micro-businesses forced to do unpaid work

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A further half of entrepreneurs (53%) are asked to work for free annually.

Chorus is a new membership organisation supporting the UK's micro-businesses

Micro-business owners pointed to large corporations and charities as the bodies most likely to ask them to work for free.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of UK micro-business owners have been forced to do unpaid work at some stage in their career just to get a foot in the door, according to new research released today by micro-business organisation Chorus. A further fifth of entrepreneurs are approached to work for free every month and over half (53%) are asked annually.

These revealing figures are part of new OnePoll research* released today by Chorus – a free-to-join membership community that champions the voice of the country’s 5.2 million micro-businesses. Funded and led by Crunch Accounting to support, advise and campaign for micro-businesses, and with a membership base of over 23,000, Chorus represents a new approach to supporting micro-businesses in the new economy.

When questioned further, an additional quarter (27%) of those surveyed also felt that working for no money was a necessary step when starting a business. Others were less charitable with their services, with a quarter (25%) saying they would never do unpaid work, while one in five (20%) said they had worked for no money on projects but thought it was unfair.

Micro-business owners pointed to large corporations and charities as the bodies most likely to ask them to work for free.

Jason Kitcat, micro-business ambassador for Chorus, said: “Micro-businesses are a key driver of the UK economy, keeping the wheels of innovation and entrepreneurism turning – yet this research shows their skills are being undervalued and exploited.

“Micro-businesses employ 8.4 million people and account for 96% of all British businesses, but too often they are being taken advantage of, on the promise of future publicity and business. Unpaid work shouldn’t be necessary, the time and effort of micro-businesses should be valued like any other. At Chorus we understand the importance of micro-business’ national economic contribution and we are campaigning for better protection of their rights,” added Kitcat.

Anyone wanting to join the Chorus community of micro-businesses and be part of a larger organisation reaching and influencing policy makers can do so by registering at

*The research commissioned by Chorus and run by OnePoll surveyed 500 decision makers within micro-businesses (companies with between 1 and 9 members of staff) across the UK from the 18 to 21 April 2016.

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Alice Johnson