WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Independent Women’s Forum, through its Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) and Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC), filed a comment urging the U.S. Department of Labor to rescind its proposed rulemaking “Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” [87 Federal Register 62,218 (Oct. 13, 2022)] and leave the 2021 Rule in place in order to protect freelance workers.
Currently, more than 60 million workers nationwide participate in freelance work; independent contractors make up over 36% of our nation’s labor force.
On January 7, 2021, the Department of Labor adopted a rule, Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (86 Fed. Reg. 1168), which brought clarity to the law and gave comfort to America’s freelance workers. Almost two years later, the Department of Labor has proposed an entire new set of regulations, as if the 2021 Rule never existed.
Patrice Onwuka, director of the Center for Economic Opportunity, stated:
We know that about half of independent contractors are women, so proposed regulations that curtail independent contracting makes this a concerning issue for us. Non-traditional employment relationships allow workers to earn income and work on their own terms, setting them up to pursue their dreams and fulfill their life’s desires. It’s troubling that lawmakers and regulators at the federal and state levels are working against the independent and entrepreneurial spirit by imposing these new restrictions on independent contracting.
The proposed regulations would likely have the same devastating impact as California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), enacted in early 2020. AB 5 stripped income, flexibility, and, in some cases, livelihoods from numerous women, seniors, students, disabled workers, and professionals across California. IWF launched the Chasing Work storytelling series to document some of the heartbreaking stories of independent contractors who were harmed by California’s restrictive law.
IWF’s grassroots arm, Independent Women’s Network, drove nearly 1,000 comments from the public to the regulatory docket opposing the DOL’s Employee or Independent Contractor Classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The docket closes tonight at 11:59 p.m. EST.
“The proposed rule is confusing and pulls the rug out from under millions of American women who seek autonomy and independence in freelance work,” said Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center. “The Department should protect freelance workers and withdraw the rule.”
On Friday, December 9, IWF held a press call with members of Congress, a worker who lost her opportunity for employment under California’s AB5, and a 20-year seasonal Santa Claus whose work was slashed because of similar policies.
Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor Virginia Foxx: Workers deserve the freedom to choose how they work. … The livelihoods of real people are at risk. Americans should be able to build the future they want for themselves.
Rep. Michelle Steel: When we have skyrocketing inflation that is causing families to struggle, we should not be imposing union-backed bureaucratic regulations that make it harder for them to work. Instead, we need to be giving workers more flexibility and more opportunities to earn.
Rep. Rick Allen: If the Biden administration succeeds in scrapping the independent contractor model, we’d be giving the federal government authority to dictate how Americans earn their living. Or at the very least, we’d be allowing the government to eliminate a perfectly valid career path that’s lifted millions of people out of poverty, grown wealth substantially in this country, and helped them accomplish the American dream. The modern workforce is entrepreneurial and our government should facilitate that spirit, not crush it under the weight of bureaucracy.
To learn more about the threat to independent contracting, visit the Center for Economic Opportunity. Or explore IWF’s Chasing Work project featuring real stories of workers — graphic designers, florists, transcriptionists, singers, writers, and more — impacted by job-killing regulations.
For press inquiries, contact Meghan Agostinelli at [email protected].