Bill would create new working arrangement, combine IC flexibility and some employee protections

July 29, 2022

A bill that would introduce a new type of working arrangement was introduced in the US House of Representatives this month. It aims to combine the flexibility of self-employment with certain workplace protections and benefits.

The bill – dubbed the “Workers’ Flexibility and Choice Act” – was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. They included Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; Elise Stefanik, R-New York; and Michelle Steel, R-California.

“Workers in Texas have grown rapidly in the gig economy for the flexibility and opportunity it offers,” Cuellar said. “This legislation promotes this type of self-employment.”

According to lawmakers, the bill seeks to:

  • Ensure that workers retain the freedom and flexibility to accept or reject offers to provide their services.
  • Promote worker freedom without infringing on certain labor rights, including protections against discrimination, retaliation and harassment.
  • Allow workers to engage and provide services to multiple entities at any time.
  • Provide workers with a written summary of any health, pension, training, or other benefits.

Workers would agree to a “worker flexibility agreement” before work begins.

“The bipartisan Worker Flexibility and Choice Act will allow workers to choose the type of work that best suits their needs while allowing companies to offer benefits traditionally reserved for employees,” said Stefanik, l one of the supporters of the bill.

However, the bill has raised concerns.

This would effectively eliminate minimum wage and overtime pay in one fell swoop, University of California Hastings College of the Law professor Veena Dubal told MarketWatch.

“The idea is that in exchange, a worker would get the ‘flexibility’ associated with on-demand work,” Dubal said. “But that’s a false dichotomy. Workers should benefit from flexible working hours and a wage floor. And they can – under an employment model.

One of the bill’s supporters, California Congresswoman Steel, participated earlier this month in a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to take action to prevent the bill AB 5 of the state to have an impact on the trucking industry in California. The bill toughens the misclassification of independent contractors. Republican state lawmakers argued this month that AB 5 is questioning the independent contractor classification of 70,000 truckers in the state.

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