- Despite the rise of "gig economy" companies (think Uber), there is still mainly nothing but talk about ways to redo existing labor laws to fit this new, emerging category of independent contractor workers, according to an article at the Washington Post.
- Even so, reform proposals are surfacing. While the number of people working on-demand through online companies in the U.S. is estimated to be only about 600,000, this emerging worker category "could grow exponentially," reports author Lydia DePillis.
- One reason for the seemingly slow pace is that the legal environment overlaid on the American work experience has remained status quo for around six decades, so it's resistant to change, says DePillis.
“It’s going to be very difficult for government to keep up,” former Domestic Policy Council chairman Bruce Reed told the Post. Reed, who has been recruited by the Aspen Institute to run an Initiative on the Future of Work, added that "This issue will be an interesting clash of the can-do mentality of Silicon Valley with the 'let’s not and say we did' mentality of Washington.”
DePillis reports that within a year, Aspen hopes to offer workable ways to protect the "not-quite-employees-not-quite-contractors" in the on-demand economy, while allowing unfettered growth of services that have resonated with consumers.
At the same time, this week the Department of Labor is holding the “Future of Work Symposium” in Washington D.C. to kick around some ideas on how the federal government ought to adapt to new forms of employment relationships. In addition, DePillis reports, the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution plans to host a morning of panels to discuss a new paper on the subject by President Obama's former Council of Economic Advisors chairman Alan Krueger and Seth Harris, a lawyer who served briefly as U.S. Secretary of Labor in 2013.
For now, it's mainly talk, but DePillis writes that any legislator who is brave enough to tackle the issue will likely have much data with which to work.