Human beings might be the smartest species to ever walk the earth, but despite everything, their track record of making mistakes remains as devastating as you could possibly imagine. This dynamic has already popped up on the surface quite a few times throughout our history, with each of the said appearances practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. To the world’s credit, we’ll solve our conundrum in the most fitting way once we bring dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across every area was a game-changer, as it instantly gave us a safety cushion against our many shortcomings. By doing so, it, of course, ushered us towards a much better reality, but at the same time, the utopia to emerge here was pretty short-lived. Talk about why that was the case, it was all technology’s fault. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the scene, it allowed every individual an unprecedented chance to exploit others for their own benefit. In case this didn’t sound bad enough, the whole runner soon began to materialize on such a massive scale that it expectantly neutralized our governing forces and sent them back to the drawing board. After spending a long time in the wilderness, though, it seems like the regulatory industry is finally ready for a meaningful renaissance. If anything, the same has turned more and more apparent over the recent past, and a newly-proposed legislation should only solidify its traces moving forward.
In the latest chapter of a long-running dogfight, the US Labor Department has formally proposed a new regulation, which is designed to make it easier for the gig workers to gain the ‘employee’ statues at their respective companies. As a part of the arrangement, the department will implement a new test to determine if a worker should be classed as an employee or an independent contractor. Touted to be a much easier test than the current one, the assessment will take into consideration factors like the extent of control workers have over how they carry out tasks, how much bandwidth they have to increase their earnings by offering other services, whether workers need to buy their own equipment, and most importantly, how critical is their role to the company’s overall business. Assuming a worker clocks the required threshold in this test, they will be able to avail benefits and protections such as a minimum wage, overtime, unemployment insurance contributions, and their employer paying a share of their Social Security taxes.
“While independent contractors have an important role in our economy, we have seen in many cases that employers misclassify their employees as independent contractors, particularly among our nation’s most vulnerable workers,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in a statement. “Misclassification deprives workers of their federal labor protections, including their right to be paid their full, legally earned wages.”
Notably, even if the regulation is signed into a law, though, the states will have every bit of freedom to set their stance on the matter.
The bid to protect gig workers by getting them the employee status has gone through all sorts of phases. In 2020, California sensationally approved the passage of Prop.22, which deprived app-based drivers from getting classified as proper employees. However, just one year later, the state’s Superior Court would reverse that decision by deeming the regulation as unconstitutional. The latter call has since been appealed by the likes of Uber and Lyft, but now whatever happens with the new legislation might have a say in how that appeal shakes out.