Comment from Ericka Chickowski

I am writing today as an independent contractor who has worked for myself as a sole proprietor for the better part of 20 years now. Most of my career has been spent working as an independent contractorand I love it. I am a freelance journalist and marketing writer who works for between 8-15 different clients over a typical year. These clients can include publications, marketing agencies, multinational corporations, other freelance writers who want to share the load on big projects, small businesses, and consultancies.

Additionally, I also on occasion hire other writers, copyeditors, and graphic designers as subcontractors on certain projects to provide turnkey content production services for clients.

I don’t need or want to work as an employee for any of my clients. I make far more money offering out my services on a freelance basis than I ever would as a 9-5 employee for any one of these clients. I pay my taxes (including Social Security through self-employment tax), fund my retirement accounts, and buy a decent HSA health plan each year. My work is project-based, I have complete control over my schedule, and the flexibility and freedom that the independent contractor relationship provides me is incredibly important. I’m the mother of two small children, and the freedom I have to work from home and spend time with them is one of the big reasons I love the freelance life. At the same time, I’m no moonlighterI am the main breadwinner for our family. My work is lucrative enough that my husband can opt to be with the kids as a stay-at-home dad, again to provide the best upbringing and care we can for our children.

I have watched with horror at the proceedings to push forward the ABC test in the AB5 law in California. If that kind of rule was rolled out nationally it would harm my family a great deal. Developed several generations ago in an age before the Internet or telecommuting were even in the realm of possibility, this test is not made for the realities of modern work.

Being forced into an employment relationship with my clients would create conflict-of-interest nightmares, as I frequently work with competing publications and competing technology companies over the course of a given year. Additionally, it would limit my ability to write off my home office and other expenses the way I can on my Schedule C. Similarly, it would limit my ability to utilize tax-advantaged retirement accounts the way I can as a self-employed person. Even part-time employment relationships would give my employers the ability to dictate my schedule and mode of work. I’d lose the flexibility I need as a working mother. Finally, that lack of flexibility would bring no benefit with it. An employer would not be required to provide me with health insurance or other benefits, and I’d likely be forced into a corporate healthcare plan that is probably inferior to the one I buy on the open marketplace.

I believe the newly announced DOL Economic Reality test is a much better standard to determine legal employment status vs independent contractor status. I support this or the IRS test as becoming the standard under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. We need labor laws that protect people like me to work when we want, the way we want.

Comment ID: WHD-2020-0007-0146 | 19-Oct-20

Categorized under Family, Flexibility

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