A new poll by NPR/Marist found that 1 in 5 jobs in the United States are held by a worker under a contract. This trend is expected to accelerate over the next 10 years, as companies and workers look for more flexibility through temporary work arrangements. However, it also raises questions about the “safety net” that traditional employment provides.
Often, being independent means that workers do not have the safety net of benefits and other forms of support that traditional workers do. According to the poll, 51% of freelance and contract workers do not receive benefits such as sick leave, unemployment insurance or retirement savings.
Benefits: Part-Time vs. Full-Time vs. Contract Workers
The poll also shows that the toll of insecurity goes beyond just financial. Many contractors do not receive at least some training to advance their careers, and some don’t think their employer values the work that they do. Some hope that freelancers will join together to fight for worker rights and benefits. The Freelancers Union, which as 350,000 members, provides support for freelancers such as health insurance. According to Sara Horowitz, the founder, there is a need to create a new social safety net where freelancers can rely on each other.
“There are really big risks in freelancing, because the income is so episodic and freelancers aren’t entitled to unemployment insurance and this is really bad for low-work wagers in particular.” ~Sara Horowitz, Founder of the Freelancers Union