Independents Balk at Plan to Redefine Self-Employed

by Emily Blackburn

Independent contractors, including many with ties to the kitchen and bath industry, are sharply criticizing plans by the U.S. Labor Dept. to reclassify them as employees rather than self-employed Americans.

Self-employed contractors, demanding that the Labor Dept. “stop attacking their choice for self-employment,” voiced their opposition to plans to redefine legal self-employment, expressing concerns that the Labor Dept. will implement the controversial “ABC Test” to determine who is a 1099 Independent Contractor versus a W2 employee.

AB5, which uses the ABC Test as its standard, was signed into law in California and resulted in the loss of income for so many independent contractors that the state legislature was forced to pass an emergency measure, ultimately exempting more than 100 professions.

The Biden administration had been urging Congress to adopt the ABC Test in the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which stalled in the U.S. Senate, compelling the administration to attempt regulatory initiatives such as the Labor Dept.’s current rulemaking effort, which contractors fear would incorporate the ABC Test into federal regulations.

According to critics, the Labor Dept. has alternative standards it can consider which would likely have less of a negative impact on independent contractors.

Among those who would be impacted by the proposed Labor Dept. regulation, critics say, are independent kitchen and bath designers who subcontract with design firms to do renderings, as well as project managers and architects who contract with design/build firms.

“Dozens and dozens of independent contractors insisted that the Labor Dept. stop attacking our choice of self-employment,” said Jen Singer, co-founder of the coalition Fight For Freelancers USA. “We told the Labor Dept. that we want these attacks on our small businesses to stop,” added Karon Warren, co-leader of Fight For Freelancers USA. “There are 59 million independent contractors in this country. We’re a third of the U.S. workforce, and … the majority of us are happy. Lawmakers and regulators need to stop their outrageous attempts to misclassify us as employees.”

“If the Labor Department plows ahead with its plans to misclassify us as employees, it will be intentionally against the clearly stated wishes of most independent contractors across the country,” Fight for Freelancers USA said.

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