According to a new survey from, 54% of gig economy workers and freelancers say it takes too long for them to get paid.’s survey questioned 1,400 US freelancers and contractors and also found that 45% have had clients not pay them on time.

More than four in five (86%) say they prefer to receive payments electronically and 41% say this is to avoid the delay. When they do get paid, 30% still have to deal with payment processing fees.

It appears that the problem is universal. A similar study from PayPal who found that even on the other side of the world (Southeast Asia) 58% of freelancers were not being paid on time for their work.

For those working in the gig economy, being paid late can lead to serious cash flow problems, especially for those who already lack a steady income.

The amount of time and effort that goes into chasing payments (as well as completing work) means that many freelancers are not being compensated for the true amount of work required.

Unfortunately, the perception of freelancers is often lacking. Many clients feel they’re doing a freelancer a favour and they should be happy to be paid at all. They don’t realise that freelancers are running a business and like any business, they expect to be paid in full and on time.

Ways to avoid late or non-payers

While it’s difficult to avoid a 100% success rate here, there are some things you can do to sort the good clients from the late payers.

Do your research

Clients will certainly be researching you, so you should do the same. You can tell a lot about someone from their online presence or lack of it.

Take a look at their social media for any red flags, for example rudeness or complaints. Pour through online reviews for their company to get an insight into how they work.

Anything you find that you’re not comfortable with is a perfectly good reason to not accept the job. Remember, you can turn down jobs. There’s no need to say yes to every project.

Draw up a contract

Get everything in writing, especially an agreement to your payment terms. In most cases, referring to the contract is a good way to motivate clients. If the worst happens and you have to take legal action, a contract will be your best friend. If they refuse to sign a contract, that’s a good indication that the client is not to be trusted.

Late payment fees

No one wants to pay more than they originally agreed to. This is why so many freelancers insist on a late payment fee in their contract.

It’s important to make it clear that any late work will have a penalty attached to it. Tell them this before you start work and see their reaction. If they say “fair enough” then you’re off to a good start. If they’re already complaining about it, the chances are they don’t respect your business and are likely to be one of the late payers you’re best off avoiding.

Late payment fees are best used as a deterrent. However, if you do end up charging them, at least you’re compensated for your inconvenience.


Do you have problems with late payment? Do you have any tips for getting paid on time? Let us know your thoughts.


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