On Thursday, Democratic Senators Patty Murray of Washington and Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduced the “Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act,” a bill that would tighten the requirements for independent contractor classification. 

The press release claims the bill “will help protect small businesses” as well as “stop corporations from abusing and dictating workers’ economic conditions while denying them basic workplace protections.” Don’t let the pro-worker language fool you. This bill comes in direct response to the recently released rule from the Department of Labor clarifying the employment regulations for independent contractors in a positive direction for freelancers.

This bill would codify the stringent “ABC test” used in California’s dangerous AB5 law which has destroyed the livelihood of thousands of Californian workers. A worker is automatically classified as an employee unless he or she: (A) is free from control and direction, (B) performs his or her labor outside the usual course of business; and (C) is engaged in an independently established business.

This is the second attempt to push through laws against independent contractors. The Protecting the Right to Organize Act was passed by the House in February and would also codify the same ABC test. 

IWF has been working to show the human impact of California’s misguided law in our storytelling campaign, Chasing Work. These laws attacking independent contractors are proposed in the name of protecting workers but instead, they take away work opportunities from the growing numbers of individuals who choose to work as independent contractors. 

In fact, California’s version is so detrimental to their workers that a hundred exemptions have been added for those professions with the largest voices. 

Independent contractor work is a growing sector of our economy. Whether through the gig economy, where apps connect workers with job opportunities, or more traditional independent contractor positions, individuals value freedom and flexibility. Many individuals spend decades building up their profession as an independent contractor and bills such as the Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act would take their careers away. All this in the name of protecting these independent contractors, despite most contractors valuing their professions and work-life balance. 

At a time when so many Americans have been suffering due to lost work, we should not take away opportunities to work, especially as parents balance having children home from school due to pandemic restrictions. Individuals should have the ability to choose what is best for them and their families, without government restrictions limiting their options.