“Anything you can do, I can do better.” That’s essentially the sentiment floating around Albany these days as New York lawmakers look enviously towards California and its groundbreaking new law that will soon revolutionize the way workers are characterized as contractors or employees. In the wake of California’s AB 5 – a bill that will codify the stringent ABC test into state law and make it extremely difficult for companies to classify their gig economy workers as independent contractors – New York legislative leaders are lining up to be next to reshape the state’s misclassification test, according to Newsday, “on a scale that one veteran lawmaker said would be similar to sweeping changes made during the Industrial Revolution.”
New York lawmakers just introduced the “Dependent Worker Act” into the Assembly and Senate this past week, which proposes to provide workers in the gig economy with certain rights that previously were only available to “employees.” However, just as quickly as the bill was introduced, the bill’s sponsor delayed consideration of the bill until the next legislative session amid criticism that the bill was rushed, poorly drafted, and did not go far enough in protecting gig economy workers.
Many workers are leaving the comfort and stability of traditional 9 to 5 jobs in favor of more flexible options. This paradigm shift may be new to the general public, but it certainly does not appear to be a passing fad. In fact, in 2016, almost 53 million Americans made a living working in the gig economy. To be clear: that’s nearly 34% of the American workforce (wow!). Recent projections forecast that by 2020, nearly 43% of the American workforce will be comprised of freelancers. So why are workers opting for opportunities in the gig economy over more traditional employment options?