The traditional workplace is experiencing a huge shift in operations management. The gig economy is taking off across industry sectors. Businesses like Uber and TaskRabbit were built from the ground up on a gig economy framework, but established companies are now shifting their focus as well. Jobs that were once traditionally 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday, in the office, and face-to-face are becoming far more flexible.
The Internet’s vast capabilities has expedited the shift away from traditional office spaces. For businesses, freelancing and distance work can be a huge cost saver on things like rent and office upkeep. Contracting out is also attractive because companies are not responsible for unemployment, paid time off, or maternity leave.
Pros of Freelancing
Freelancing is often the quickest and easiest way to gain legal entry to the Czech Republic. It is common for English teachers and to use the self-employment trade license to become legal Czech residents, then continue teaching English for private companies, schools, and individual lessons. Unlike regular work visas or student visas, the self-employment visa is not dependent on an outside company or university, but it still comes with some restrictions, which we will discuss below.
The flexibility of being self-employed is often the most attractive aspect. Freelancers decide who they work for and when to work. For parents and caregivers, this flexibility can be crucial to their lifestyle. The ability to change employers can be an advantage for professionals in fast-paced industries like IT. Moving from project to project and between companies offers a competitive edge while keeping skills sharp.
Cons of Freelancing
The rise of the gig economy has come with its fair share of controversy. The main concern for workers is the lack of social safety nets in the event of unemployment, sickness, or workplace injury. In most cases, the employer takes no responsibility for their freelance or gig employees, as they are technically self-employed or contracted out. What workers are gaining in flexibility, they are often losing in rights to maternity leave, unemployment benefits, and retirement compensation. While the self-employed pay less in social security taxes, they must take full responsibility for their wellbeing and be financially literate enough to plan for unexpected events.
It takes self-discipline to work from home and some people need the structure of the traditional workplace in order to be productive. Co-working spaces are becoming popular as a means for the self-employed to enjoy their freedom, while also having a dedicated workspace away from home.
Starting Your Self-Employment Journey
The trade license, called živnostenský list (or živno) is necessary for visa applications (when not applying through a job, university, or spouse). This license allows expats who want to live in the Czech Republic to be self-employed and for employers to hire them. After receiving the proof of a trade license and the visa application, it can take up to six months for the visa to be approved. For the visa application, freelancers will need:
- Proof of funds, usually in the form of a letter from the bank stating you have at least $5,300 in your checking account (for a single person),
- Proof of accomodation, usually in the form of a signed rental agreement,
- Permission from your landlord to use your address as a business address; and
- Proof you’ve committed no crimes in your home country, usually a signed affidavit from the local police station or embassy.
Most documents, especially ones from abroad and written in languages other than Czech, will need to be officially translated and notarized. Once the visa is approved, to pick up the živno, you will have to provide proof you’ve paid your social taxes and health insurance. After all the bureaucratic departments have been satisfied, you can begin your career as your own boss.