LOCAL NEWS

Gig workers getting more protections

Jan 12, 2024, 1:55 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new rule that will give workers in the gig economy more protections.

Companies like Uber and Lyft will be forced to treat some workers as employees rather than less expensive independent contractors.

In Utah, gig workers make up about 5% of the state’s workforce.

KSL’s Tamara Vaifanua spoke with Alexandrea Ravenelle, the author of “Side Hustle Safety Net”.

She said gig workers should be entitled to worker benefits and protection. “Many workers who are W2s have the flexibility to go to the doctor to pick up their kids after school to go to a child’s soccer game or gymnastics practice,” Ravenelle said. “There’s nothing preventing gig economy companies from making their workers W2 workers and still giving them flexibility.” 

Business groups and Republican lawmakers strongly criticized the rule on Tuesday, saying it would cause millions of workers to lose opportunities to earn money and would create confusion that would spur costly litigation.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R. La., said in a statement that he would introduce a resolution to repeal the rule. Cassidy said the rule would bolster labor unions’ efforts to increase their membership, as independent contractors and freelancers cannot join unions.

The rule replaces a regulation by Republican former President Donald Trump’s administration that had made it easier to classify workers as independent contractors. The new rule is likely to be challenged in court by trade groups and businesses.

Under the Trump era rule, workers who owned their businesses or could work for competing companies, such as a driver who works for both Uber and Lyft, could be treated as contractors.

The new rule goes into effect on March 11. 

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Gig workers getting more protections