Your Uber driver should be an independent contractor: Bloomberg View 

Uber_Logo_Black_Background.pngFrom Oregon Live, Justin Fox proposes that Uber drivers should be independent workers — a new type of worker that is neither an employee nor independent contractor.  Justin writes:

Several other countries already have an in-between classification of “dependent contractor.” These generally seem to be people who do their work for one organization, though, so it’s not clear that such arrangements would make sense for the archetypal gig worker who does projects on Upwork, sells crafts on Etsy, drives a few hours a week for Lyft and rents out her apartment on Airbnb when she leaves town to, I dunno, dog-sit at her parents’ house.

So we’ve been getting some interesting proposals. I last wrote about this topic back in June, and a lot has happened since then. This summer, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Service Employees International Union official David Rolf outlined a “Shared Security System” of portable benefit accounts and basic job standards. In October, Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio gave a big speech on the “on-demand economy” in which he endorsed the “dependent contractor” idea. In November, a motley crew of tech executives, venture capitalists, union officials, academics and think tankers from both the center-left and center-right signed on to asimilar set of principles for portable and universal job benefits.

There are other efforts too, several of which are discussed by the Washington Post’s Lydia DePillis here. And this week we have animportant proposal from Seth Harris and Alan Krueger, under the auspices of the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, for a new employment category called the “independent worker”:

In our proposal, independent workers — regardless of whether they work through an online or offline intermediary — would qualify for many, although not all, of the benefits and protections that employees receive, including the freedom to organize and collectively bargain, civil rights protections, tax withholding, and employer contributions for payroll taxes.

These independent workers would not, however, be subject to minimum-wage or overtime rules or be part of the unemployment insurance program, the reasoning being that such protections don’t really make sense for someone who chooses her own hours and works through multiple companies. On health insurance, companies such as Uber would be encouraged to offer pooled coverage and be “required to pay a contribution equal to five percent of independent workers’ earnings (net of commissions) to support health insurance subsidies in the exchange,” but would not otherwise be subject to the employer mandates in the Affordable Care Act.

 

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