Comment from Karon Warren

For the last 20 years I have worked as a freelance writer — and independent contractor — and I have built a very healthy, financially sound career. Initially, I started freelancing because I was moving from a city to a more rural community and didn’t want to drive a daily commute. Then, when I had my first child, freelancing provided a way for me to continue to my career while staying at home with my child. When my second child arrived, I was thrilled to know I still could work from home. The ability to work when I wanted, for whomever I wanted, for whatever rates I contracted, while staying at home with my children was invaluable. I never had to ask for time off to take care of my kids, to attend their school functions and after-school activities, or to just be with them whenever I wanted.

In addition, I created the career I wanted: I get to choose my clients, I get to choose the work, I get to choose the rates. I want to take time off? No problem. I want to work more? No problem. I want to increase my income? I seek out more clients or raise my rates. The tradeoff? I take responsibility for paying my own taxes, including self-employment taxes, health insurance, and retirement. Guess what? I pay for all those things. I don’t need a W2 job for those benefits. As a small business owner, I provide those benefits for myself. Just like I can take vacation or sick days whenever I want.

Under this new DOL rule, I can continue working on my own terms. I won’t be forced into a W2 job I don’t want, making far less money than I make now. Under other proposed labor laws such as the PRO Act and the (grossly misnamed) Worker Flexibility and Small Business Protection Act, my career would be stripped away because of the antiquated 1930s ABC worker classification test contained therein. The ABC test was created to classify 1930s factory workers; it has no place classifying a 21st-century workforce that is unlike anything that could have been imagined in the 1930s. The “B” prong of the ABC test is particularly harmful given I am a writer who writes content for magazines, digital outlets and content agencies whose main industry is providing content. Under ABC test-based laws, my current roster of approximately 20 clients would be required to make me an employee, whether I write one story for them per year or 30. That’s ridiculous. And which one would be responsible for providing sick leave if I needed it? Which one has to pay for the retirement? The health insurance? How do they determine how much of my Social Security and unemployment insurance is their responsibility?

Of course, I also would lose other benefits if I am classified as an employee. For instance, I couldn’t write off my home office expenses. My retirement would take a HUGE hit as I would be limited to just $6,000 per year instead of the maximum of $57,000 I can contribute as an independent contractor. In addition, I would lose my copyright to the works I create. That could lead to massive losses because I could no longer sell my work in the future as a possible book, movie or other creative endeavor. Also, as an independent contractor, I work with many clients, but that could be severely restricted if I were forced to be an employee, either through a non-compete clause or because my clients don’t want to hire me as an employee. Plus, by maintaining my own career as a freelance writer, I don’t have to deal with ageism, gender discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace.

As already proven in California through its disastrous AB5 that contains the 1930s ABC test, if these ABC test-based labor laws pass at the federal or state level, not only would my career be destroyed, but also the careers and livelihoods of independent contractors in more than 300 industries. Bottom line: The ABC test is irrelevant to today’s modern workforce. The DOL Economic Reality test is much more nuanced for a 21st-century workforce. As the standard under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the DOL Economic Reality test would provide a labor law that works for everyone.

Comment ID: WHD-2020-0007-0192 | 20-Oct-20

Categorized under Family, Flexibility, Independence

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