Advocacy In Action
By every measure, independent workers in the U.S. should be able to carry serious political clout and drive meaningful change. More than one-third of American workers earn income as consultants, freelancers, independents, or self-employed professionals, and 3 out of 4 do so by choice, not necessity. So why do policies consistently overlook—or show overt bias toward—a workforce that’s 68 million strong? Because scattered across every profession, income level, industry, party, race, religion, gender, and geography, independent workers lack a unified voice to get Washington’s attention. Changes won’t come quickly or easily, but our three policy pillars are already taking shape. Here’s what we’re asking from the federal government:
Add a dedicated focus on independent workers
Current labor policies were designed 75 years ago around traditional employment models, and ignore nearly 40% of the modern workforce. Though “gig worker” lawsuits make headline news, the federal government’s time and attention is still focused almost exclusively on “jobs.” To balance this equation, we propose an undersecretary of independent work at the Department of Labor: a post focused solely on understanding and representing the unique interests of the self-employed.
Provide fair and equitable tax treatment.
Lacking policy advocates to champion their workstyle, independent workers are subject to taxation without representation. Even those who have chosen self-employment as a full-time career face ongoing attempts and “tests” to re-classify them as W-2 employees. Though the U.S. tax code is famously complex, the self-employed face additional intricacies and burdens—and accountants can’t yet assure them whether the new tax act is a boon or bust for their solo businesses. Independent workers should be free to work as they choose without undue tax burdens or fear of misclassification.
Remove barriers to fair and equitable benefit structures.
Both the employer-based model and the individual mandate for health insurance have proven deeply flawed, and neither is likely to move beyond political gridlock anytime soon. We believe the free market can reach faster, better solutions to affordable, portable health care and benefits for the self-employed. We’re asking policymakers to remove roadblocks and amend current policy to allow innovative solutions to emerge in the free market, and to deliver the protection that independent workers deserve.
No one is more passionate about the rights of independent workers than iPSE-U.S. founder and president, Carl Camden! Listen as he discusses equal benefits of the 60 million independent American worker with veteran broadcast journalist Chuck Ashman.
Yillah Rosenfeld, a graphic designer who does contract work for USAID, doesn’t believe enough attention is being given to independent contractors – but WE are here at iPSE-U.S.! We’re lobbying for the rights of iWs to cover issues just like this one!
…that delivery riders working for online platforms are employees, not self-employed. Not surprisingly, it came down to the ever-murky topic of “control,” including how much instruction riders were given about how to do their work.
…that delivery riders are self-employed because (we love this part) “The riders’ freedom to determine if and when to work is not compatible with employment.” One of the most sensible statements we’ve seen all year.
Tulsa, OK is offering entrepreneurs $10,000 plus free co-working space if they move to the city and live there for a year. Similar program have launched in MI, OH, VT, and CT.
On Jan 1, Washington state is rolling out a plan that gives workers up to 16 weeks of paid time off for illness, injury, or maternity/paternity — and the self-employed can participate! A 0.4% premium delivers up to $4k per month. We’ll be watching how they calculate “hours worked” and “weekly pay” for ICs.
December 31 is the IRS deadline for opening a solo 401(k). You’ll have until April 15 to contribute and take a tax deduction for 2018.
The IRS recently confirmed the 50% deduction for meal expenses – but as usual, fine print applies. Make sure you know what your generosity will cost before you pick up the tab.
Senators Warner and Coons are introducing the Lifelong Learning and Training Account Act, a tax-preferred savings account with a government match to help workers (including the self-employed) retrain or upskill throughout their careers.
Yes, please! Uber, Lyft, and Postmates are asking the SEC to amend Rule 701 and allow independent contractors to be paid in company shares. With Uber set to go public in 2019, we’ll be watching this one closely.
Millennials and mid-lifers alike are enjoying flexibility and higher pay as travel nurses, KCUR reports. So the next time you get medical care, it might just be from a fellow freelancer.
Despite those rising incomes, Fast Company reports that 1 in 3 independent workers are setting nothing aside for retirement. Be sure to check out Prudential’s Financial Wellness to find out if you’re on the right track.
revenue for the U.S. economy in 2017, and their own financial picture is improving as well: MBO reports that more than 20% of freelancers now earn more than $100k/year.
In NY, a company can exercise “incidental control” over independent contractors without creating an employment relationship, provided it doesn’t control the results of the independent contractor’s engagement, or the means used to achieve those results.
In the highly publicized Dynamex case, the California Supreme Court adopted an “ABC Test” to determine if someone is an independent contractor
The new approach presumes that all workers are employees unless proven otherwise. To meet this burden, the hiring entity has to establish all three of the ABC factors to classify someone as an independent contractor.
Four Democrats in U.S. House of Representatives release new report: The Future of Work, Wages, and Labor
Despite its forward-looking title, the report is deeply entrenched in traditional employment models. (It does mention a recommendation to explore portable benefits … in the “supplemental menu” at the report’s end.)