Gig Workers And The Self-Employed Need Benefits

Career Climbers / 9th November 2018

The growth of the gig economy and self-employment is leaving workers significantly under-protected and benefits need to adapt to changes in the workplace, new research1  from MetLife UK shows.

More than 7.6* million are currently estimated to be either self-employed or working in the gig economy where people are paid for short-term employment via digital platforms – Government data shows around 4.8 million are self-employed with 2.8 million working in the gig economy over the past 12 months.

MetLife’s study among Employee Benefit Consultants (EBCs) found 54% believe the UK’s changing work patterns are a significant growth area to help address unmet protection needs and prevent millions of workers facing financial challenges should illness or injury mean they are unable to work or, should the worst happen. 

However, they believe  the industry is behind the curve in developing solutions relevant to groups of workers such as the self-employed and those employed on permanent contracts who are not covered by group risk.

Around 57% of EBCs would support legislation to extend workplace pensions auto-enrolment or group life assurance to cover the self-employed earning above a certain income. The Department for Work and Pensions is currently testing a number of approaches designed to increase pension saving among the self-employed.

EBCs recognise they and providers have to change – 67% say benefit communications have to be enhanced and segmented for different age groups to ensure employees are aware of and understand how their benefits can work for them.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “Changes in the world of work are reshaping how companies operate and that needs to be reflected  by the Group Risk industry.

“One key area that could be addressed is people employed on permanent contracts who are facing modern-day challenges that are very different to the working environment when traditional benefits products were conceived.

“Benefits should form a core element of an employer’s value proposition and can be powerful in attracting and retaining employees. But employers need support in communicating the benefits they offer and providers and advisers can help them, making benefits communications part of everyday working lives and not just a once a year event.”

MetLife is established as the UK’s third largest Group Life provider by the number of schemes it insures3 and the sixth largest Group Income Protection provider by in-force premium. It has generated significant market momentum through its focus understanding customer needs and by employing staff focused on delivering customer excellence supported by strong partnerships.

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