Bipartisan Legislators Introduce Bill with Some Legal Protections for Gig Workers

A bipartisan group of legislators recently introduced H.R.8442 – Worker Flexibility and Choice Act, a bill allowing businesses to maintain gig workers as independent contractors. The bill also would provide some legal protections for those workers, despite their independent contractor status. As an independent contractor, the worker would receive a 1099 form from the business at the end of the tax year rather than a W-2 form.

Under this bill, the business and the individual could voluntarily sign a worker flexibility agreement outlining their respective legal rights and responsibilities before the individual completes any work for the business. Among various provisions, the bill would:

  • Give gig workers control over when, where, and how much they work by allowing them to accept or reject assignments;
  • Provide gig workers with protection against discrimination, retaliation, and harassment;
  • Permit gig workers to provide simultaneous services or assignments for multiple businesses or platforms;
  • Require companies to provide a written summary of any benefits to which gig workers may be entitled; and
  • Give gig workers privacy and safety rights, as well as leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), companies must provide employees with minimum wage, overtime pay, and certain other benefits. They need not provide those same benefits to independent contractors. The Trump administration implemented a rule that made it easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors, which remains in effect. This rule allows companies to save money on pay and benefits by using independent contractors instead of traditional employees.

Critics of the bill claim that it has adverse consequences for employees in terms of lower pay and fewer benefits. Workers have mixed reactions, with some valuing the independence and flexibility of working as independent contractors instead of employees. The bill also comes when demand for workers is much higher than normal, so providing workers with flexibility can be key to attracting and maintaining workers.

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

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