Freelance and gig workers in the U.S. could be on course to gain a host of federal labor protections, if a long-awaited proposal is approved.
The Labor Department has released a new worker classification rule that would reclassify certain workers, such as freelance marketers and Uber drivers, as employees rather than independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
This would have massive consequences on the flexible workforce, making them eligible for protections like minimum wage, overtime, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.
But do freelance workers actually want to be classed as employees?
While such protections would be welcomed by many self-employed workers, others would defend their independent status, preferring to retain the flexibility and autonomy of a freelance or contractual worker.
On the ‘employer’ side, some companies argue that re-classifying their workers as employees rather than contractors would devastate their business models.
But there’s still a long way to go yet. Even if the rule is finalized, it will almost certainly be challenged in court.