Do you know anyone that drives for Uber? What about someone who does side jobs in areas such as small maintenance, sewing, dog-sitting, or even childcare? What about you? Do you do some consulting on the side? If the answer is yes, then you know about the gig economy. It is becoming an ever-growing part of the economy and the government seems to finally be addressing it.
Not just the job of the DOL
According to attorney Lisa A. McGlynn, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta has addressed the gig economy in recent remarks. In his remarks, he makes it clear that making changes in the structure of how jobs are dealt with is not just the job of the DOL. McGlynn said that Acosta said it is “…not the [job of the] Department of Labor’s, to put together legislation to deal with the wave of new issues that have arisen from the continued popularity of non-traditional working relationships.” Acosta feels that these changes need to be handled by more than just rules changes, it needs to be handled by enacted legislation. McGlynn also said that some legislators have expressed an interest in tackling this subject.
Unfortunately, the wheels of legislation are turning slowly these days. McGlynn says “The gig economy now seems to have captured the attention of the government, and some targeted legislation is likely on the horizon.” In my opinion, this cannot occur too quickly, but I also feel this will not occur very quickly. There are many forces that fight against the gig economy. Gig workers are not popular with Unions. They are also not popular with tax collectors. It is far more difficult to collect taxes from individuals that it is employers.
Rulemaking is still needed
While Acosta encourages Congress to enact laws to improve the laws that govern the interactions of employers with workers, for example, the FLSA is in bad need of an overhaul, we still need to have some changes in the interim. There are changes that can be made in the definition of independent contractors that could ease the way to a more comprehensive change in the relationship between employers and workers.
Acosta needs to realize that Congress will move slowly. The Courts will move slowly. Changes need to be made today to pave the way. Unfortunately, government moves slowly and getting rules rewritten will take time. There may only be three years left in Secretary Acosta’s tenure with the USDOL and if he wishes to get change started he needs to do it apace.
What HR can do
If you are in HR and would like to see the rules rewritten then write some letters. If you are someone who thinks they can prosper under the gig economy express your opinion to your Congressional representative or Secretary Acosta. Offer suggestions, you never know your idea may be the right one.