Work expenses driving employees into debt

More than two thirds (67%) of employees surveyed are having to pay for work expenses with their own money at least once a week, according to new research.

For a fifth (20%) it is a daily occurrence, and the same percentage of these weekly or daily spenders have to wait a month or more to be reimbursed.

Added pressure on private bank accounts has led half (52%) of employees to use credit cards at least once a week, with around a fifth going into their overdraft (21%) or asking friends and family for financial help (19%).

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Carlo Gualandri, founder and CEO of Soldo which conducted the research, said employers could not sit back and allow their employees to use their own money for work-related expenses.

He said: “The issues related to out-of-pocket expenses are clearly affecting all employees – making it difficult for businesses that are continuing to ignore the problem. 

“Employees, just like businesses, are facing rising costs in the current economic climate and employers need to understand the dire impact out-of-pocket expenses are having as a result. In 2023, with technology at our fingertips to help eradicate such issues, there is no excuse.” 

Separate research by fintech firm Emburse earlier in March found the majority (55%) of younger workers would prefer to use corporate cards over claiming back expenses, with 47% saying a company card would prove helpful in eliminating unexpected costs in the cost of living crisis.

Employees suffering from financial difficulties often suffer from significant levels of stress and anxiety, making employee debt a wellbeing issue.

Younger employees often find it significantly harder to borrow when covering expenses according to Jamie Anderson, Emburse’s chief revenue officer.

He said: “We’re all feeling the impact of rising prices, so it’s more important than ever for companies to listen to employees and understand how best to support them. 

“This is even more important for younger employees who often earn less and may not have large amounts of credit available. When almost half of young workers say that the cost of living makes them want a company-paid card for their expenses, it’s something that companies should seriously consider.”

Giving an employee a company card, he said, was an easy and free way to show employees their employer cares about and trusts them.

He added: “Giving employees credit cards also makes sound business sense. By setting restrictions on how and when, and where they can be used, it’s much easier to control purchases in advance, instead of having to wait for expense claims to come in after the fact."