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Freelancers crippled by late payments

Eighty-one percent of offline freelancers (freelancers not working through a freelancing website) have been paid late for a project they completed based on agreed upon expectations and deliverables.

Nearly half (47 percent) were unable to pay a bill on time due to late payments; 1 in 4 couldn’t afford a weekly shop and had to borrow money from a friend or family member. Offline freelancers spend 30 hours per year on average tracking down late payments for completed work. 71 percent said it’s very important to be paid on time — yet the same percentage said they would describe their experience getting paid as difficult. For the 4.5 million Brits who work independently as freelancers, time is money.

New research from Upwork, the largest freelance talent marketplace, reveals that payment processes for offline freelancers are difficult. An initial study commissioned by third-party research firm Censuswide surveyed 500 offline freelancers and found that 81 percent have been paid late for a project they completed;contrarily, a second survey of 500 freelance professionals that use Upwork found that 3 in 4 have never been paid late for a project completed through the platform — indicating that online platforms can help improve reliable payment.

The knock-on effects of late payments is clear. As a result of being paid late for completed freelance work, nearly half (48 percent) of offline respondents reported being unable to pay for basic expenses such as rent or credit card bills, and 1 in 4 also claimed they were unable to afford a weekly shop and had to borrow money from a friend or family member. Furthermore, offline freelancers spend 30 hours per year on average tracking down late payments for completed work — and almost a third of freelancers (32 percent) are left chasing payments of more than £1,000.To fight against the scourge of late payments, 75 percent of offline freelancers have resorted to sending “chaser emails,” and nearly half (49 percent) have tracked down their debtor in-person to seek remuneration.

“Before I started working on Upwork, I spent weeks on a project only to have the client not pay me — even after following up several times. It cost me a lot of time and put me in a vulnerable financial bind with bills I needed to pay,” said Jolita Abromaityte. “Since joining Upwork, I have never been paid late, so I don’t have to worry about this happening again.”UK businesses are increasingly relying on freelance talent, but company’s payment terms haven’t caught up with this shift yet,” said Rich Pearson, SVP of International. “As a result, more and more freelancers are moving to platforms like Upwork that offer weekly payment cycles and guarantees to get the money they’ve earned.”