New Rules Impact Gig Workers And Independent Contractors

Many independent contractors, often called “gig workers” or self-employed individuals, will be impacted by Biden administration-pushed legislation that went into effect this week.

A report in PJ Media argues the changes are a move by the Biden administration and union leaders to bring non-union workers into their orbit. Economists observe that doing so will increase tax revenue to state and federal offices.

Coming changes will reportedly make it more difficult for businesses to contract with non-union workers, thus making it more difficult for freelance workers and self-employed individuals to find work.

Targeted professions are self-employed writers, contractors, delivery drivers, performers, and independent service providers.

Also impacting self-employed individuals, in 2023 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) introduced new income reporting requirements for those operating small businesses on platforms such as ETSY and those receiving services-related payments on platforms such as PayPal.

Fox 32 Chicago reported that the Department of Labor aims to reverse former President Donald Trump’s 2021 order classifying most “gig employees” as independent contractors and reclassify them as regular W-2 wage-earner employees.

The report noted that U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president Mark Freedman opposes the new guidance. His statement on the matter reads: “It threatens the flexibility of individuals to work when and how they want and could have significant negative impacts on our economy.”

The new rules will impact approximately 25% of American workers. PJ Media reported that at least 10% of those workers “rely exclusively on so-called gig work.”

The McLane Middleton law firm commented on the January 2024 U.S. Department of Labor ruling regarding independent contractors. Their report outlined the six new eligibility factors that freelance workers must now meet.

Additionally, the IRS, the National Labor Relations Board and state-level Department of Labor and Unemployment agencies are also imposing new restrictions on freelancers.

Reuters reported the U.S. Department of Labor first proposed independent contractor-related changes in 2022. The new regulations went into effect on March 11.

Proponents of the rule change argue that businesses have favored working with independent contractors because they can pay them less, have less tax liability and are not required to provide health insurance or benefits.

Opponents of the rule argue workers should not be forced to affiliate with a union and should not be penalized if they choose to provide short or long-term freelance work, on terms they deem acceptable, to one or more clients.