December 3 was the first day of the new legislative session in California, the first day that members could introduce bills for the 2019-2020 legislative session. If the first day is any indication, there is one issue that will dominate employment policy discussion in 2019: Dynamex, Dynamex and Dynamex.
We’ve been expecting this since August, when the New York City Council passed a proposal establishing that ride-sharing driver should earn a minimum rate of pay, the first such minimum wage in the nation. Today, the other shoe dropped and the minimum wage was set.
On the heels of the NYC Council passing (and the mayor signing into law) a bill requiring minimum payments for ride-sharing drivers and a one-year freeze on the number of ride-sharing vehicle licenses issued, the NYC Council just passed another six new bills aimed at protecting both taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers. The bills, approved by the Council on November 14 and expected to soon be signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio, are focused not only on drivers’ pay, but also on the financial and mental well-being of drivers in the wake of a spate of recent driver suicides and some of the more macro-economic issues facing the taxi and ride-sharing industries in NYC.
One of our firm’s most prolific writers and most astute analysts of all things related to workplace law in California, Ben Ebbink (Sacramento) wrote a recent post-election entry for the firm’s California Employers Blog entitled “What Will A Governor Newsom Mean For California Employers?” The entire post is worthy of your review, but two portions of his blog entry particular focus on the gig economy. Here are those two excerpts:
Frequent readers of our blog will recall our post from earlier this year where we referenced the efforts of gig economy company Handy to lobby legislators in a number of states to pass laws protecting the independent contractor status of individuals working in the online digital marketplace. That effort was recently successful in Tennessee.
We’ve been waiting for something like this since the gig economy was established: a set of rules and regulations, adapted for the modern era and with the gig economy in mind, addressing the issue of independent contractor classification. And yesterday’s news may mean we may actually have our wish granted.
While businesses, chambers of commerce, local leaders, and others have put the full-court press on the California legislature to take action to somehow lessen the impact of the new ABC Test for determining misclassification in light of the state Supreme Court’s recent Dynamex decision, it appears there is no relief in sight. For the foreseeable future, California employers need to adjust to the new reality and assume things aren’t going to be changing.
We’ve been asking for increased regulation of the gig economy, and we got it – just not the kind of regulation businesses were hoping for. While gig businesses are craving a modern regulatory approach to misclassification issues, the New York City Council yesterday instead issued a series of new laws that could serve to cool off the growth that we’ve been seeing for the past few years. Among the new laws, ride-sharing drivers will soon be entitled to what appears to be the nation’s first minimum payment wage rates, and the number of licenses for permissible ride-sharing drivers will be artificially capped for the first time.
Although the document itself is fairly dense and complex, specifically focusing on the home-care registry industry, the Labor Department’s latest field assistance bulletin could provide a helpful clue to gig economy companies about how the agency could regulate the concept of misclassification on a broader scale. The July 13 document tilts the scales back towards an even playing field, which should be music to the ears of gig economy businesses across the country.
It’s a small step, but at least it’s progress. Federal regulators made it easier this week for gig workers to obtain health insurance on a more cost-effective basis, which should help to shore up the ranks of gig workers and make freelance work a more attractive option for a larger pool of talent.