Today, there is no safety net for independent contractors. These individuals don’t have access to the health insurance or other benefits that people who are W-2 worker have. So, if they get sick or the platform they are working on disappears, they are out of luck (think Uber closing its doors without giving their drivers notice). Will they ever have stability?
With the rapid growth of the gig economy and the rise in the number of independent contractors in the workforce, now is the time to show that supporting the “future of work” is a priority. Independent contractors need an ecosystem of support where they can have flexibility and the security of a traditional employee. We need a third class of worker. A third class would challenge the two-class system, and allow for independent contractors to receive portable benefits. This would give this rapidly growing class of our nation’s workforce the rights and added peace of mind they deserve. But first, we need a foundation – and that’s where legislation can come in.
How we get there
Small steps and careful planning are essential to creating a third class of worker. Many countries are making strides to give those independent workers and the companies in the gig economy more protection. In the United Kingdom, there are bills proposed to protect the rights of independent contractors. The bills push companies to be clear on every worker’s definition of employment status. In addition, all workers, contingent or not, would get paid minimum wage and have holiday pay.
In the U.S., Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) proposed the “Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act” in July 2017. Portable benefits are benefits, like health insurance and financial planning tools, for independent contractors. Portable benefits would allow them to maintain these benefits when they change jobs. The bill would create a $20 million fund to “support broad innovation and experimentation” with portable benefits.
The world is taking notice and taking necessary legislative steps to create a way to support independent contractors, and portable benefits could be the answer. Or it could be a building block to creating a sustainable third class of worker. When we empower independent contractors, they can work towards their goals and expand their horizons.
Why is this imperative? Download our white paper, The Need for a New Class of Worker, to see how fast this workforce is growing and why we should advocate for their rights.