Some private sector employers considering benefits for independent workers
- Lawmakers and some businesses are continuing the discussion over benefits and other employment-type protections for independent workers, NPR reports. But movement remains slow, especially in the private sector.
- A janitorial firm called Managed by Q offers anyone who puts in 120 hours a month healthcare, dental and vision coverage. The company also has a matching 401(k) retirement program, a stock option program in which all employees can invest, as well as 12 weeks of paid parental leave.
- The projected current 54 million to 68 million independent workers in the U.S. often don't receive benefits and do not have access to employer-provided healthcare.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers talked about updating decades-old wage-and-hour laws to address the massive growth in independent workers. Advancing the Social Contract for Gig Economy Workers, a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., too place in March. So far, only discussions have taken place. With lawmakers currently occupied with healthcare, immigration and policy debates, action on possibly new or updated legislation isn't likely to occur soon.
Meanwhile, employers' demands for independent or on-demand workers hasn't subsided. Independent workers continue to grow in number, from a rate of 10% in 2010 to a projected 50% by 2018. In fact, a majority of the job growth has been in the independent category.
Originally, employers liked the option of hiring on-demand workers without the cost and administrative burden of providing benefits coverage and other perquisites. Some gig employers have pondered a switch to full-time employment to improve customer service and overall performance, however, signaling that for some companies, the stability may be more important long-term.
In any case, private sector solutions for gig workers will likely be slow, if they happen at all, for risk of being perceived as a full-time employer of said individuals. Movement will likely have to be via Congress.