A growing number of workers are turning to platforms like Uber, TaskRabbit and Upwork to earn extra money – or even to make gig work a main source of income. Yet, while the gig economy is upending many aspects of the traditional employee-employer dynamic, the way gig workers are paid has scarcely kept pace with these developments.
In fact, the paycheck cycle long favored by employers can wreak havoc on the finances of gig workers, whose schedules and workloads are often anything but regular. This is especially the case for workers who lack savings and struggle to pay their bills, or those considered to live “paycheck-to-paycheck.”
Some gig platforms, including Uber and Lyft, have introduced the option of receiving immediate payment for jobs. However, there is another innovation in compensation that may prove even more compelling for gig workers. Pay advances enable workers to receive full or partial payments for jobs they have been assigned but not yet completed. PYMNTS research indicates that this payment option would help gig workers to gain financial control and stability in an economic arena in which these are often lacking.
PYMNTS’ ongoing research series Pay Advances: The Gig Economy’s New Normal, a collaboration with Mastercard, explores the potential for this novel approach to compensation. In the Pay Advances Playbook: Breaking The Paycheck-To-Paycheck Cycle, we analyze the survey results of more than 2,200 gig workers to reveal insights into how workers who tend to experience the greatest degree of financial strain view pay advances.
Our research shows that for a large majority of respondents, working in the gig economy is indeed a paycheck-to-paycheck affair. More than 70 percent of gig workers live paycheck-to-paycheck, meaning they either lack savings, struggle to pay their bills or both. Among these workers, interest in pay advances is extraordinarily high — and these gig workers don’t just view pay advances as a means to cover immediate expenses and bills. They also view them as a means to smooth out the uneven cash flow that is often inherent in juggling ad hoc jobs.