Efforts to transform, modernize decades-old labor laws underway in Senate
In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that 55 million workers made up the gig economy—the labor market known for short stints, contract work, and freelance positions. While the explosion of app-based services and the evolution of the gig economy over the last decade have transformed the way consumers conduct business and access the marketplace, the country’s labor laws haven’t kept pace to protect independent contractors and those seeking flexible, temporary work.
That could change as Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced last month the Employee Rights Act (ERA) of 2022 (S. 3899).
“Complexities of our modern economy demand creative, forward-thinking legislation that gives workers and small business owners stability and flexibility,” said Scott. “The Employee Rights Act puts workers back in the driver’s seat by giving them basic protections and the power to choose how to make a living for themselves and build a future for their families.”
Scott’s Senate bill expands on similar legislation he introduced in 2011 while serving in the House of Representatives in that it continues to seek traditional worker protections during collective bargaining processes and organized labor campaigns. However, it also addresses unique needs of a booming modern workforce.
By incorporating language from the Save Local Business Act, the ERA of 2022 includes protections for individuals who own their own businesses and asserts that businesses should not be liable for other entities with whom they share a connection but are not under their direct control.
Additionally, the ERA of 2022 extends benefits to independent contractors without forcing them into an employer-employee relationship. Traditionally, businesses have been restricted in what benefits they can provide to independent contractors. This bill would allow independent contractors to continue to operate with the flexibility they desire and receive benefits.
The Association recently joined dozens of other organizations expressing support of the ERA of 2022.
For more details on specific provisions of the legislation, visit employeerightsact.com.