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  • Workers are Changing. California Legislature Must Face That Reality

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    June 26, 2019

    Labor protections are meant to address certain situations where there is an imbalance in control between the employer and employee. But when the workers themselves control their working conditions, are these labor protections still necessary? 

    The heart of the debate over independent contracting in the gig economy is how can we improve protections for gig workers, without losing the control and flexibility they value.

    Today, you can’t have it both ways. Having job security means the employer will schedule your hours. Without that control, you couldn’t get coffee in the morning if one day all the baristas choose to sleep in.

    On the other hand, embracing the freedom to control your own schedule releases an employer from paying overtime or scheduling mandatory breaks, since you control when, where and how long you want to work. 

    But times are changing and so is technology, and arrangements for gig workers don’t need to be an either/or proposition. The best approach is to explore new models that uplift work and extend labor protections where there are the most obvious needs.

    The wrong approach is to shoehorn all freelance workers into an industrial model built for a different age and outdated technologies.

    Technology hasn’t just created more choices for consumers. It has provided a flexible way for workers to earn money and supplement income in California and around the world according to their own lifestyles and preferences. 

    Hundreds of thousands of workers in California are voting with their pocketbooks to forego or supplement traditional work arrangements with work in the gig economy to accommodate school, kin care, or avocations, or to bring in more income on the side.

    By Allan Zaremberg, President, California Chamber of Commerce

    But making way for change isn’t easy, particularly when traditional work arrangements are defended by special interests that can exist only within those old models. While progressive in other realms, the California Legislature has never grappled with how freelance workers and independent contractors fit into our dynamic economy, especially the gig economy. 

    By default, workers have been governed by laws uninformed by the advances of mobile phones, information networks, or the innovation revolution of the past decade.

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    Allan Zaremberg, President of the California Chamber of Commerce