Lack of benefits biggest challenge of gig economy: survey

A lack of benefits, including medical, dental and disability, is the biggest challenge of working in the gig economy, according to a new survey by BMO Wealth Management.

Among 1,000 Canadian small business owners surveyed, 69 per cent said a lack of medical, dental or disability benefits is the largest financial downside to working in the gig economy. Broken down by age group, 87 per cent of baby boomers said they felt it was the biggest challenge, compared with 72 per cent of generation X and 67 per cent of millennials. Other challenges cited by survey respondents included not getting paid when sick (55 per cent) and not earning enough (41 per cent). 

Read: The intricacies of providing benefits in the gig economy

“While the freelance economy can be enticing and lucrative, offering flexibility and the option to work within one’s specialty or have a better work-life balance, it comes with its own set of challenges,” said Chris Buttigieg, director of the wealth institute at BMO Wealth Management, in a news release.

The survey also found 40 per cent of respondents identified as being part of the gig economy currently or in the past. The reasons to work in the gig economy included having autonomy and control (49 per cent), making extra money on the side (49 per cent), balancing career and family needs (42 per cent) or because it was the only way to make an income (27 per cent). Among generation X respondents, 52 per cent said they value a career-family balance, while 53 per cent of millennials said they were more apt to work in the gig economy to make extra money on the side.

“Since the global financial crisis in 2008, technology and automation have transformed just about everything we do,” said Joanna Rotenberg, group head at BMO Wealth Management. “The new job economy has also changed the way Canadians save and invest. A change in the way Canadians hire or get hired means additional time and planning is needed for gig economy workers to achieve their financial goals.”

Read: Surveys show pension concerns for both Canadian millennials, seniors