The world of work has changed drastically over the last decade with the rise of technology-based jobs, app-driven employment and remote working. Research released this week by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that 39% of workers have turned to temporary or freelance work, up from 36% in 2014. Twenty-eight per cent of them chose this type of role because they wanted more flexible hours, while 36% wanted to get on the job ladder more quickly.
With the rise in freelance working, particularly in the high-skilled arena, we commissioned nationally representative research across 2,003 UK adults which discovered many are turning their back on 9-5 working hours to achieve a better work-life balance, with nearly half of Brits choosing a job based on flexible working. However, many are not satisfied with the freelance arena due to inconsistent and late payments that are rife in the gig economy. It also found that three in 10 Brits think that they would earn more if they worked as a freelancer, but they choose not to due to inconsistent payment structures. This equates to 7.5 million people across the country.
The gig economy is made up of 2 million people and, in 2016, was reported to contribute £119 billion to the UK economy. Freelance numbers have increased by 45% from just under 6.2 million to 8.9 million in 2013, making them the fastest-growing group in the EU labour market.
The gig economy is often thought to be limited to delivery and taxi drivers, but this is not the case. Freelance working has become a lucrative life-choice of the middle-classes, brandished under sophisticated terms of consultants, project managers, data scientists and specialists – the world of flexible working is far from the confines of low-skilled workers. Prominent sectors to support flexible employees include technology, finance and medicine – all requiring highly skilled, highly resourced professionals.
One burden that is shared by these workers in the gig economy arena is the common thread of inconsistent and late payments. Our research supports this as 15% of Brits think the biggest issue they’ve faced as a freelance worker is chasing invoices. Unfortunately, this is dissuading many from working in a freelance capacity with 7.5 million Brits and over a third of middle-class workers thinking that they would earn more money if they worked in a freelance capacity, but choosing not to due to the inconsistent payment structures.
Freelance working has increased rapidly in the past decade with more demand for skilled workers as contractors than full-time employees and freelancers looking to strike a better work-life balance, but many appear to be let down by the payment structures in place for freelancers. The fact that over 4 million people are spending 10% of their week chasing invoices in a huge waste of time and productivity to the economy, and recruiters and companies need to work harder to ensure that freelancers concentrate on the job that they are doing, rather than chasing invoices. If the skilled gig economy is to grow at the pace expected, these issues need to be dealt with sooner rather than later, and that is why at ETZ, we are working with recruiters to offer same-day payments to ensure that flexible workers are getting paid for the work they do in a timely manner.
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