Gig Workers Are Under-Protected, Need More Employee Benefits

In Business, Industry News by Tom Pullinger

The UK gig economy is set to boom as more and more businesses look to plug skills shortages by hiring temporary or contract staff over the next year. Indeed, according to the Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide, over a quarter (28%) of UK businesses are planning to hire so-called “gig workers” in the next 12 months.

It’s a reality that is being driven, in part, by the need for businesses to secure the right staff, at the right time, to remain relevant and competitive. In fact, 38% of businesses polled for the salary guide said they would use short-term employees to fill skills gaps within their organisations over the next year.

But while the apparent demand for gig workers is welcome news to individuals who work this way, many are leaving themselves vulnerable because they are often under-protected when it comes to safeguarding themselves and their families against financial hardship should they become unable to work.

A study conducted for Zurich UK earlier this year found that just 2% of gig workers benefit from life insurance, income protection or critical illness cover through their gig company. Should they become unable to work for three months or more, the vast majority would have to rely entirely on their own financial backups in order to survive.

Over Half Of Gig Workers Have Zero Benefits

While just under a third (29%) would have to depend on state benefits, 16% would sell personal possessions to raise some cash and 19% would look towards the ‘bank of mum and dad’ for help.

Over half (53%) of all gig workers receive zero benefits whatsoever, such as a workplace pension, holiday and sick pay, through their gig companies.

Interestingly though, the Zurich research also highlighted that many gig workers would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant they received access to benefits. For example, 28% of respondents said they would agree to a 5% wage reduction if they could access sick pay, 14% for Income Protection, 12% for Critical Illness cover and 8% for Life Insurance.

In other words, gig workers are willing to sacrifice a proportion of their salaries if it meant securing such benefits.

The key is for companies to recognise this willingness and make adjustments when they hire gig workers to satisfy their benefits needs and wants. Moreover, suitable solutions also need to be designed to help cover self-employed and permanent workers who are not safeguarded by Group Risk schemes.

Government figures reveal that there are around 7.6 million self-employed and gig workers in the UK today, many of whom are paid for short-term employment via digital platforms.

If businesses want to stand a better chance of securing these gig workers and fill any skills gaps they might have, they should look to make themselves more attractive. One of the best ways to do this is by offering the benefits these workers yearn for.

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[Related reading: What Perks Do British Workers Really Want?]


A highly motivated result’s driven individual with a wealth of experience in the Healthcare & Group Risk market. I have established strong relationships with large multinational clients through excellent interpersonal skills. I have advanced listening, negotiating & influencing skills that allow me succeed in a team based environment. I have comprehensive knowledge of the UK Healthcare & Group Risk market. This knowledge has been obtained through the Chartered Insurance Institute & self study.