SURVEY SAYS: ‘Gig’ Workers and Benefits

With an increase in workers taking on ‘gig’ jobs, the question is how to ensure they have the opportunity to save for retirement and are protected from high health benefit costs.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Do you know someone working a ‘gig’ job, and do they receive health and retirement benefits?

Nearly eight in 10 (77.8%) of respondents work in a plan sponsor role, while 16.7% are TPAs/recordkeepers/investment managers and 5.5% are advisers/consultants.

More than two-thirds (68.4%) of responding readers reported that either they or someone they know had taken on a ‘gig’ job, but 31.6% indicated they didn’t know anyone with a ‘gig’ job. Among those who took ‘gig’ work or know someone who did, 31.2% said the person retired before taking on that job; 68.7% said the person didn’t.

According to 87.5% of respondents, the person with a ‘gig’ job does not get health or retirement benefits. However, 6.2% said the person gets retirement benefits, and another 6.2% said the person gets health benefits. No one reported that the person with a ‘gig’ job received both health and retirement benefits.

Among readers who chose to make verbatim comments, many noted that for ‘gig’ work to ‘work’ as far as health benefits, the person needs a fall back, such as a spouse with health insurance or still being young enough to be on their parents health insurance. A few said the trade-offs of ‘gig’ work, i.e. flexible schedule, less stress, made up for the lack of benefits. But many pointed out the difficulty of saving for retirement for ‘gig’ workers who are not already retired. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I know lots of people with ‘gig’ jobs, most are post-retirement jobs. Although most are enjoying what they do, I hope to retire with enough funds to never need a ‘gig’ job!” 

A big thank you to all who responded to the survey!


I was always able to purchase health insurance in Massachusetts. The higher pay as a contractor offset the higher cost of the coverage. Contracting agencies routinely offer access to 401(k) plans, unmatched, of course. The challenges were long-term disability and long-term care. I picked up both of those when I converted from temp to perm with one employer. They are both portable, so I will continue with them as self-pay since I left that position and expect the remainder of my career will be in the gig economy.

The people I know to have taken 'gig' jobs usually have an additional support source: under age 26 and still on parents' insurance plans or married to a spouse with medical coverage. The main focus is usually on the health benefits, but I would imagine retirement to also tend to be dependent on an alternative source such as a spouse or lottery dreams.

They do the job for spending money and to keep their hand to keep up with the current regs.

Every worker needs benefits.

The downside to my husband's gig work (lower pay and no benefits) has also allowed more flexibility to help cover kids/dogs, a much happier spouse, and plenty of time to ponder what he'd like to do for his next career move. It's serving as a great paid sabbatical.

Just another way to pay less to those who do the real work.

I know lots of people with 'gig' jobs, most are post-retirement jobs. Although most are enjoying what they do, I hope to retire with enough funds to never need a 'gig' job!

The person I know took on a part time gig job because he wanted something to do in retirement. While he gets paid, he receives no benefits. He has also attained age 72.This works for him as it is just 5 or 10 hours a week as needed. I am more concerned that the younger individuals who have gig jobs are not thinking about how they will fund their retirement or pay for medical expenses or fulfill their obligations in the future. Lack of planning on their part should not become a tax expense for those of us who plan ahead.

Often, gig workers are stranded unless they have a spouse with traditional benefits. Even then, because of limits (and perhaps further restrictions due to ADP testing) it is virtually impossible to save enough for two people for retirement. IRS limits just won't do it! As for health coverage, there is no option to compare health benefits from two employers to select the best option (not to mention the potential surcharge for covering a spouse). It's deplorable.

This is the first I've heard of this term. Interesting to say the least. I think I might start working towards a gig job!

I know a jazz singer who works gigs. She doesn't get health or retirement benefits, but she works sweet hours and gets free drinks.

Some people are able to take gig jobs because a spouse is in a job that furnishes health insurance. This allows the gig job holder to negotiate higher wages since benefits are not provided. Works well for some, but does require discipline to save for retirement.

No, they don't get benefits, and no they don't (technically) have the security that comes with full-time employment. On the other hand, they don't have to take all the bullsh*t that comes with those benefits and full-time employment, either. Which, unfortunately for their retirement finances, likely means they will live even longer...


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.