As the trend of a gig economy is expected to increase, with the number of freelance workers expected to grow beyond the 27 million people who currently work part-time, only 33% of those part-time employees have an employer-sponsored retirement plan compared to 69% of fulltime employees, according to the fourth annual Workplace Benefits Study from Guardian Life.
The study entitled “Part-Time Nation: The “gig economy” leaves some working Americans financially vulnerable” found that 32% of part time workers had a retirement savings plan, 25% had medical insurance, 18% had dental insurance and 14% had disability insurance and only 13% had life insurance through their employer.
The study also found that 24% of part-time workers “feel good” that they could pay a $3,000 medical bill, compared to 34% of their full-time colleagues. One-third of part-timers “feel good” that they are saving for retirement (41% of full-timers answered this way) while 35% of part-timers have a financial plan while 45% of full-timers reported having a plan.
When it comes to seeking medical insurance outside of their employers’ offerings, one in three part-time workers acquired coverage from a trade association or affinity group. A little more than half of part-time workers (56%) own life insurance, and Guardian found that those part-timers with life insurance are often under-protected: The study found that one-third own coverage that would “barely cover their annual household income.”
To help part-time workers, employers and benefit advisers could offer access on a voluntary, employee-funded basis or a contributory basis that would provide access to different employee benefits along with wellness and employee assistance programs, suggests Peggy Maher, SVP and direct-to-consumer business head for Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.
“Thinking about your financial well-being and health, certainly you want to think about medical benefits. But it’s also important to think about dental, vision, accidents, critical illness or other types of supplemental health,” says Maher.
When part-time workers were asked to cite their financial situation as a source of stress, Generation X-ers weighed in at 51%, with 39% of Millennials and 22% of baby boomers. When these numbers were broken down by what Guardian calls “life stage,” 74% of part-time workers who are “single with kids” cited their financial situation as their top source of stress. This demographic was followed by 66% of “Single with no kids,” 58% of “Married with kids” and 27% who identified themselves as “Married with no kids.”
“We know that if an employee receives those types of benefits, they are more likely to stay with the company longer, more satisfied with job and feel more financially secure,” says Maher.
Part-time workers are often stuck with having to pay for Social Security and Medicare taxes, and miss out on overtime pay and rest breaks. The survey found that a majority of part-time workers do not have financially dependent children, and earn less than $50,000 a year in household income.
Granting part-time workers with benefits like retirement benefits and insurance would ease some of the financial burden from part-time workers, says Maher.
“Just having peace of mind that is created through protecting your family to understand that if something unexpected happens you don’t have to dip into your savings or borrow money from friends. You’ll be able to weather that storm without worry,” she says.
For the online study, Guardian profiled 1,439 employees aged 22 and older who have worked for at least five years for a company as a full-time employee. Guardian also sampled 277 part-time permanent employees and non-permanent contract workers.
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