How often do freelancers get paid late?

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As a freelancer, you assume at first that getting paid for your work is going to be a straightforward process. Once you have completed the task for the client, it seems only natural that they would pay you immediately to express their gratitude. However, this is often not the case for a freelancer, as the reality is quite different.

More often than not, getting paid late is one of the biggest challenges that a freelancer can face, and it also exposes them to a substantial financial loss, tells WondaPay.In fact, one in four freelancers are currently considering their position because of late payments.

A systemic problem

Unfortunately, the issue of a freelancer being paid later than they would like is more systemic than one would initially conceive. It’s estimated that 30% of all freelancers experience problems with late payments, and in 2022 alone, we could see the loss of 400,000 small businesses simply because they are not getting paid on time to keep the lights on. Research by WondaPay found that 55% of freelancers are having to wait a month or more for each of their invoices to be paid. While one in five said that they are used to waiting at least two months for payment, and 6.2% say that they often have to wait more than 3 months. With freelancing being their sole means of income, this is putting an incredible financial – and emotional – strain on the UK’s freelance workforce.

The logic that goes hand-in-hand with not paying freelancers on time is quite baffling. In any other situation, not paying for a service for months at a time would be frowned upon, and even illegal. It is highly dubious if a firm is not paying its workers on a monthly basis, so why the same courtesy is not extended to a freelance professional is unknown.

A problem with no answer?

Unfortunately, this seems to be a problem with no real discernible answer for the freelance professionals that are struggling. It is incredibly difficult for businesses that are smaller to get access to financing options to solve their hardships in the interim, because the fees that come from such a thing are often extortionate, and far outweigh the benefits of the short-term cash injection.

It is clear that if the problem is going to be corrected, we need to address the fundamental issue surrounding larger businesses. The idea that a company can go months at a time without paying a freelance professional for their services is unfair, and needs to become the exception rather than the norm. Ultimately, it’s not an acceptable standard of practice within business, and it needs to be cracked down on.

Freelance professionals need more protection, and they need to feel like if they are going to work with a bigger company, that their payment is protected and guaranteed to them upon completion of the work to an acceptable standard.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, getting paid later is one of the biggest challenges for a professional freelancer, and it can damage the relationship between a freelancer and a company. Whether or not somebody is employed by a large business or working as a sole trader should have no bearing at all and whether or not their services are paid for promptly and correctly. Bigger businesses need to hold themselves more accountable for their actions, and to recognise that even though a freelance professional may not have the same resources and authority that they might do, the service they provide is just as valuable as if it were coming from an employee.

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