Independent contractor status does not confer those rights and protections; independent contractors are more vulnerable to economic insecurity and workplace mistreatment and physical harm. Worker classification standards that differentiate employees from independent contractors vary somewhat across U.
Since the early days of U. Companies have substantial economic incentive to misclassify and can pocket as much as 30 percent of payroll costs when they misclassify workers. Companies that break the law often weigh payroll savings, reaped from eliminating social insurance contributions and obligations to meet labor standards, against the risk of litigation and governmental fines and penalties—risks that have long been quite low due to legal barriers to workers filing claims and proving cases, meager penalty schemes, and under-developed and under-resourced enforcement systems.
Employee misclassification, itself, is a freestanding legal violation in some jurisdictions, and is often an antecedent to payroll fraud and a host of labor standards violations.
Recent years have seen an uptick in employee misclassification claims by workers and innovative efforts by government entities and worker advocates to crack down on the practice. Still, employee misclassification remains pervasive, especially in sectors such as transportation, building services, logistics, home care, and construction. In the last decade, companies that straddle those sectors and the technology sector have emerged. Gig companies like Uber and Handy use and hide behind digital technologies to dispatch workers and control their work, while imposing independent contractor agreements on their workers.
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Many gig companies make filing misclassification claims cost-prohibitive by slipping forced arbitration clauses with class-action waivers into employment contracts. In addition to its extensive worker impacts, employee misclassification disadvantages responsible businesses that pay their share of payroll taxes and abide by labor standards, shifts liability onto consumers who become sole employers, and depletes social insurance systems. Handy Technologies is a case in point. Founded in , the New York City—based company has rapidly expanded its reach into residential cleaning, repairs, and other home services.
Though the company has enlisted tens of thousands of domestic workers, handymen, and others across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom to provide home services via its platform, it only calls a few hundred people its employees. Like many other gig economy players, Handy has faced resistance to its business model. The company exerts significant control over the work of those providing services through its platform, down to the fees they should charge, when and how they can interact with customers, and protocols for using the bathroom.
At the same time, the company foists independent contractor agreements on its workers. Due to its practices, Handy workers have filed five class-action lawsuits against the company, alleging misclassification and charges such as underpayment of wages off-the-clock, minimum wage, and overtime violations , unlawful deductions, and failure to offer rest and meal breaks. Rather than change their practices to comply with basic labor standards and take responsibility for the work they control and the conditions they create, Handy, Uber, and several other gig companies have mounted a multijurisdictional policy campaign to rewrite the rules of worker classification to carve themselves out of labor standards and to codify misclassification.
Handy, Uber, and several other gig companies have mounted a multijurisdictional campaign to exempt themselves from labor standards and to codify misclassification. To try to change the law in a way that you think works for your platform, or to make sure your platform fits into the existing law? The recent gig company carve-out effort can be considered a second phase of carve-outs following a highly successful effort by transportation network companies TNCs like Uber and Lyft to exempt TNCs from state and local labor standards.
Utah would not pass a gig company carve-out until None of the elements of these tests addresses the crucial issue of how gig companies are setting terms of work for those who carry out their core business. In Texas, an administrative rule change carving gig companies out of state unemployment insurance regulations was proposed by a majority two of three commissioners of the Texas Workforce Commission TWC in December and is pending approval. The federal bill also includes an income tax withholding provision meant to offset revenue losses that result when employees are reclassified as independent contractors.
Backed by big finance, Handy, Uber, and Tusk Strategies and a Goliath team of corporations, public affairs strategists, lobbyists, media outlets, policy organizations, and policymakers are pushing for gig company carve-outs at the federal and state levels.
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Tusk Strategies enlisted Definers Public Affairs to support the gig company carve-out push at the federal level. Lobbyists : To push for gig company carve-outs at the federal level, Handy and Uber hired Washington, D.
Policymakers : Around the country, at least individual policymakers have recorded formal support—in the form of federal or state legislative sponsorship, state legislative yes-votes, gubernatorial signatures, or state rulemaking body yes-votes—for gig company carve-outs. In , Tusk, Uber, and Handy began their legislative march in the state of Arizona, attracted by a favorable political environment and a sizeable market:.
In , Tusk, Uber, and Handy began their legislative march in the state of Arizona, attracted by a favorable political environment and a sizeable market. However, the political environment in other states was more challenging. In New York, for example, attempts to move legislation were halted by opponents. In , with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, the focus shifted to the federal level.
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Tusk Strategies Managing Director and Handy point-person Marla Kanemitsu got to work studying federal tax law on worker classification. The Senate and House versions of the NEW GIG Act, which is a revision of the Internal Revenue Code that would provide safe harbor to gig companies and other businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, were formally introduced in mid After the federal defeat, state legislative campaigns were back on the agenda in Since saw one public relations disaster after another for Uber,  the gig giant became a silent partner, with Handy assuming the role of public face of the campaign.
Eleven state bills were introduced in Missouri and West Virginia introduced the first gig company carve-out policies of in late January. Carve-out policies seek in part to ensure that gig companies bear no responsibility for employer payroll taxes, which can amount to 30 percent of payroll. Gig company carve-out laws in Arizona ,  Kentucky ,  and Iowa  are retroactive, so they shut down any pending challenges to the gig business model.
Passage of the gig company carve-outs threatens to shut down worker-led innovation in cities and states to address problems created by insecure gig work. Wholesale exemptions in the state laws discourage pro-worker local innovations, such as the Seattle Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, noted below.
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The reach of gig company carve-outs could have broad implications for the future of work and worker protection in the United States. Gig company carve-outs could incentivize a broad range of companies to tweak their business models to use the internet to dispatch workers so that massive swaths of the workforce—entire occupations—could be classified as independent contractors when they are not running a separate independent business. Occupations that entail on-demand, dispatched work comprise at least one in ten jobs in the United States in Occupations that entail on-demand, dispatched work comprised at least one in ten jobs in the United States in One in five jobs projected to be added to the U.
Here's what you need to know about Brexit The cross-party committee said in a report published on Monday that the legislation could leave people in a "precarious situation" and that it raises "significant human rights concerns.
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The committee claims that 3 million EU citizens will be left "in a rights limbo, subject to subsequent negotiation. The committee has drafted amendments to the bill to ensure rights are protected. The report recommends that citizens' rights be protected by primary legislation rather than relying on ministers to introduce statutory instruments after Brexit. May clings to power as UK Parliament seizes control of Brexit. Read the Chapter summary. Actors using arguments based on anti-rights interpretations of religion, culture, tradition, and rhetoric linked to State sovereignty have made significant strides in implementing and institutionalizing their regressive agenda at the UN in recent years.
Many conservative actors have creatively and effectively regrouped in this area, with increased success towards achieving their goal of undermining rights related to gender and sexuality. Influence and impact are not won by rhetoric alone. Anti-rights actors are making inroads into our human rights standards not only because of their increased numbers and networks, or their imaginative and sustained re-conceptions of what human rights norms should and do mean.
The success of any movement is also integrally driven by its organizing tactics.