modernizing labor laws for twenty first century work krueger harris


1 DISCUSSION PAPER 2015-10 | DECEMBER 2015 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker” Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger The Hamilton Project • Brookings 1

2 ADVISORY COUNCIL MISSION STATEMENT MISSION STATEMENT The Hamilton Project seeks to advance America’s promise of opportunity, prosperity, and growth. We believe that today’s increasingly competitive global economy demands public policy ideas commensurate with the challenges of the 21st Century. The Project’s economic strategy reflects a judgment that long-term prosperity is best achieved by fostering economic growth and broad participation in that growth, by enhancing individual economic security, and by embracing a role for effective government in making needed public investments. Our strategy calls for combining public investment, a secure social safety net, and fiscal discipline. In that framework, the Project puts forward innovative proposals from leading economic thinkers — based on credible evidence and experience, not ideology or doctrine — to introduce new and effective policy options into the national debate. The Project is named after Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary, who laid the foundation for the modern American economy. Hamilton stood for sound fiscal policy, believed that broad-based opportunity for advancement would drive American economic growth, and recognized that “prudent aids and encouragements on the part of government” are necessary to enhance and guide market forces. The guiding principles of the Project remain consistent with these views. Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project 2

3 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker” Seth D. Harris Cornell University Alan B. Krueger Princeton University DECEMBER 2015 NOTE: This discussion paper is a proposal from the authors. As emphasized in The Hamilton Project’s original strategy paper, the Project was designed in part to provide a forum for leading thinkers across the nation to put forward innovative and potentially important economic policy ideas that share the Project’s broad goals of promoting economic growth, broad-based participation in growth, and economic security. The authors are invited to express their own ideas in discussion papers, whether or not the Project’s staff or advisory council agrees with the specific proposals. This discussion paper is offered in that spirit. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 1

4 Abstract New and emerging work relationships arising in the “online gig economy” do not fit easily into the existing legal definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor” status. The distinction is important because employees qualify for a range of legally mandated benefits and protections that are not available to independent contractors, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively, workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and overtime compensation. This paper proposes a new legal category, which we call “independent workers,” for those who occupy the gray area between employees and independent contractors. Independent workers typically work with intermediaries who match workers to customers. The independent worker and the intermediary have some elements of the arms-length independent business relationships that characterize “independent contractor” status, and some elements of a traditional employee-employer relationship. On the one hand, independent workers have the ability to choose when to work, and whether to work at all. They may work with multiple intermediaries simultaneously, or conduct personal tasks while they are working with an intermediary. It is thus impossible in many circumstances to attribute independent workers’ work hours to any employer. In this critical respect, independent workers are similar to independent businesses. On the other hand, the intermediary retains some control over the way independent workers perform their work, such as by setting their fees or fee caps, and they may “fire” workers by prohibiting them from using their service. In these respects, independent workers are similar to traditional employees. Evidence is presented suggesting that about 600,000 workers, or 0.4 percent of total U.S. employment, work with an online intermediary in the gig economy. Although there are probably many more workers who currently work with an offline intermediary who would qualify for independent worker status than there are who work with an online intermediary, the number of workers participating in the online gig economy is growing very rapidly. In our proposal, independent workers — regardless of whether they work through an online or offline intermediary — would qualify for many, although not all, of the benefits and protections that employees receive, including the freedom to organize and collectively bargain, civil rights protections, tax withholding, and employer contributions for payroll taxes. Because it is conceptually impossible to attribute their work hours to any single intermediary, however, independent workers would not qualify for hours-based benefits, including overtime or minimum wage requirements. Further, because independent workers would rarely, if ever, qualify for unemployment insurance benefits given the discretion they have to choose whether to work through an intermediary, they would not be covered by the program or be required to contribute taxes to fund that program. However, intermediaries would be permitted to pool independent workers for purposes of purchasing and providing insurance and other benefits at lower cost and higher quality without the risk that their relationship will be transformed into an employment relationship. Our proposal seeks to structure benefits to make independent worker status neutral when compared with employee status, as well as to enhance the efficiency of the operation of the labor market. By extending many of the legal benefits and protections found in employment relationships to independent workers, our proposal would protect and extend the social compact between workers and employers, and reduce the legal uncertainty and legal costs that currently beset many independent worker relationships. 2 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”


6 4 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

7 Chapter 1. Introduction ew and emerging work relationships arising in independent contractors and some similarities to traditional employees. On the one hand, the drivers can choose when and the “online gig economy” do not fit the existing whether to work, similar to independent contractors, but on legal definitions of “employee” and “independent N the other hand, drivers face restrictions that are imposed by contractor” status. These definitions determine which workers the intermediary on how much they charge customers. Other are required to receive certain protections and benefits from online intermediaries that utilize a similar model include their employers. Under the current legal framework, the TaskRabbit (for a variety of tasks) and Mechanical Turk (for workers and intermediaries with whom they work in these tasks completed online). emerging relationships face unnecessary and excessive uncertainty regarding a range of legal protections and benefits Technology is creating exciting new opportunities to link that employees receive. Legal uncertainty creates inefficiencies workers who provide services directly to customers, with for all parties concerned. In addition, work-related benefits potentially large gains in the quality, speed, and efficiency of that could prove valuable to both workers and businesses— service. From an economic and societal perspective, however, such as intermediaries using their size and pooling advantages it is important that, if these new intermediaries are to succeed to purchase low-cost life insurance for the independent and expand, it is a result of their superior technology, efficiency, workers they engage—are sometimes eschewed to reduce the or service, not because their technology or business model risk that the law will impose an employment relationship and enables regulatory arbitrage. For example, if an intermediary the corresponding legal obligations because of the provision of succeeds by displacing traditional employers who offer the these benefits. As a result, the emergence of new forms of work same service because the intermediary gains a cost advantage that could benefit workers, businesses, and consumers could by avoiding provision of certain legally mandated benefits and be slowed, or even stopped, by a legal regime for classifying protections, then welfare is reduced by the innovation. workers that does not accommodate these innovative arrangements. A further concern with the current legal Below, we propose that Congress and, where appropriate, framework is that companies working online and offline to state legislatures, enact legislation to define and establish a match workers to final customers could organize work in such third legal category of workers: independent workers. This a way as to classify jobs that were traditionally performed by legislation would clearly define the protections and benefits employees into independent contractor relationships to avoid that intermediaries would be required to provide to the workers providing employees with benefits that are a crucial part of the with whom they conduct business. These protections and social compact. benefits would approximate the social compact guaranteed to employees, albeit with important differences that reflect the To address these problems, we propose a new legal category of substantive distinctions between employment relationships workers, which we call “independent workers,” who occupy a and independent worker–intermediary relationships. In middle ground between traditional employees and independent crafting this legislation, Congress should abide by a set of contractors. An archetypal example of independent workers governing principles to identify these workers; we describe is for-hire drivers who work on the Lyft or Uber platforms. those principles below. We also provide an analysis of the We refer to these companies, and others like them, as size, growth, and business models used by an emerging set of “intermediaries” because they are the intermediary between online intermediaries. the independent worker and the ultimate customer. These independent worker arrangements bear some similarities to The Hamilton Project • Brookings 5

8 Chapter 2. Challenges and Background t is our view that labor and employment law has evolved Second, current labor and employment laws are not harmonized or applied consistently. Workers and employers over time in the United States to reflect a social compact must confront different tests across statutes for employee between employees and employers. This social compact I represents a synthesis between the desire to enhance the status and independent contractor status. These tests and courts’ interpretations vary across statutes because the core efficiency of the operation of the labor market (e.g., to overcome purposes of those statutes vary (e.g., tax law serves a different information asymmetries and imperfections) and to ensure purpose from occupational safety and health law). So, a that the employment relationship treats workers fairly in light of the unequal bargaining power that typifies most employee– statute’s scope of coverage should be expected to best serve employer relationships. This social compact has served the that law’s purpose. Nonetheless, the classification of workers as employees or independent contractors requires analysis of United States well and, in our view, should be preserved and several different tests that, at least theoretically, could lead protected unless there are compelling reasons to alter it. to different results. For example, a worker might be deemed But workers participating in the growing online “gig economy” entitled to the minimum wage, but not to have her employer are at risk of being excluded from this social compact. These pay half of her payroll taxes. are the workers who use an Internet-based app created by an An even greater risk comes from the fact that these tests intermediary that matches customers to workers who will are collections of factors for consideration rather than clear perform personal services. Independent workers do not fit into thresholds or required elements. Labels applied in contracts either of the two legal statuses currently available under U.S. are irrelevant. Courts and administrative agencies often warn labor, employment, and tax law: employees or independent that no single factor governs, and the weighing of factors is contractors. As noted, such workers have some similarities to often left to individual decision makers. As a practical matter, independent contractors and some similarities to traditional in too many cases conclusions are driven by a predetermined employees. We offer a fuller discussion of these similarities desired outcome rather than by objective analysis. As a result, and differences below. The resulting ambiguity in these similarly situated workers, such as truck drivers, could be workers’ legal status leads to uncertainty and inefficiency in employees under a statute in one jurisdiction, but independent the labor market that are harmful to both the workers and the 2 contractors under the same statute in a different jurisdiction. intermediaries in several ways. Because they occupy a middle ground between employees First, determining whether workers in the online gig economy and independent contractors, independent workers and the are employees or independent contractors will require, and intermediaries with which they work are especially vexed by can be expected to continue to require, long, costly and this ambiguous system. As noted above, independent workers 1 Some Western economies (e.g., Czech uncertain legal battles. satisfy different factors of both the employee and independent Republic, Estonia, France [in selected circumstances], Mexico, contractor tests under most labor, tax, and employment The Netherlands, Portugal) have statutory presumptions that laws. Will courts and administrative agencies classify them essentially establish “employee” status as a default condition consistently across laws and jurisdictions? Can independent (OECD 2014). Absent a rebuttal of the presumption, there workers and intermediaries predict how they will be treated is no uncertainty regarding a worker’s status. There is no when the legal dust settles? This risk and uncertainty creates a default status in U.S. law, however. The resulting uncertainty barrier to the continuation and creation of relationships that is costly to workers, who do not know the benefits that can be beneficial to all parties involved. they will ultimately qualify for, and to intermediaries, who face uncertain costs. Both parties face the prospect of high Third, many independent workers who are classified as transaction costs resulting from litigation or government independent contractors may not have the means to secure enforcement interventions. many of the protections and benefits that are available to traditional employees. Independent workers also face barriers 6 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

9 their employers delegate such control to them. Table 1 provides to “pooling” that would increase their bargaining power a summary of how the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), both in dealings with their intermediaries and in markets Internal Revenue Code (IRC), common law, and selected other for fringe benefits that could provide them with many of the employment laws determine employee status. These tests are same benefits and protections that are legally mandated for an imperfect and increasingly outdated means for determining employees. eligibility for coverage under the social compact. Finally, some employers may reorganize their work to classify Independent contractors, in contrast to employees, do employees as independent contractors to avoid providing not relinquish control over their economic lives to others. required benefits and protections under the social compact and Generally speaking, they are independent businesses working to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. Equally troubling, the uncertainty in this dichotomous classification with multiple other businesses or clients without significant system facilitates both intentional and unintentional limitations, except those to which they may agree by contract or laws that may pertain to businesses in their sector. Typically, misclassification of workers by employers, usually in the these relationships are not expected to last beyond the direction of independent contractor status that deprives completion of a particular task, activity, or deadline. In the past, workers of many important legal protections and benefits. independent contractors have operated more at the periphery THE “EMPLOYEE” VS. “INDEPENDENT of others’ businesses rather than performing more-integral CONTRACTOR” DICHOTOMY work, but the fissuring of work and business relationships and the increasingly complex supply chains that have developed The difference between the status of employees and independent over the past several decades in some industries have made this contractors is more than an issue of nomenclature. A sizable list consideration less important (Weil 2014). of protections and benefits are at stake, depending on how the relationship is classified. It is worth reviewing what is at stake. Independent contractors control the methods and means of the work they perform for others, make significant capital benefit from contracts with their employers Employees investments, possibly employ others, and retain the opportunity that include significant substantive terms that are imposed for profit or loss. For these reasons, independent contractors are by law. In essence, employees agree to be economically expected to have some bargaining power—even if it is not equal dependent on their employers by relinquishing control over bargaining power—that allows them to enter into successful many aspects of their work lives (and, to some extent, their arms-length contracts with other businesses and clients. economic futures) and, in return, employers must provide workers with a degree of economic security. Myriad laws at Existing law wrongly implies that employees and independent the federal and state level require employers to pay employees contractors occupy the entire field of work relationships in the at least the minimum wage and overtime premium pay; U.S. economy. This dichotomy is a vestige of the early law of refrain from discriminating in hiring, firing, and the terms “masters” and “servants” that is as archaic as the words suggest. and conditions of employment on the basis of race, sex, and Newly emerging “independent workers” participate in new other selected personal characteristics; maintain safe and kinds of work relationships that occupy a space between these healthy workplaces; contribute toward the payroll taxes that two statuses. make employees eligible for unemployment insurance, Social Security, Disability Insurance, and Medicare; and provide Other countries have not clung to a dichotomous employee– workers’ compensation insurance, among other protections. independent contractor categorization of work relationships. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Both Canada and Germany, for example, recognize a many employers also will be required to provide employees “dependent contractor” status for some independent with health insurance or pay a penalty if they do not. Finally, contractors. This status becomes relevant when a contractor the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has formed an essentially exclusive relationship (80% being requires covered employers to satisfy certain requirements if a “rule of thumb” for “exclusive” in Canada) over a lengthy they provide employees with a retirement savings plan. period of time with one client such that the contractor is economically dependent on the continuation of that Various laws apply tests to identify employees and their relationship. In some Canadian provinces these dependent employers who are covered by some or all of this social compact. contractors are treated like employees, at least with respect to Key features of the determination of employee status include termination notifications and eligibility for union membership the likelihood that the employment relationships will continue (Kennedy 2014). While dependent contractor status illustrates indefinitely, or at least beyond the completion of a given task, that there is room for more than two legal statuses in the world even if only for a specified term, and whether the employer gives of work, it is worth noting that the dependent contractor the worker instructions about how to do the work. Employees are concept does not accurately correspond to the relationship also expected to have little control over their work hours, unless between intermediaries and independent workers because The Hamilton Project • Brookings 7

10 TABLE 1. Definitions of “Employee” Under Selected Statutes Intent: Method of Benefits: Control: Duration: Independent Investment: Skills Role of Payment: Business Involved: work: Do the parties Does the Does the Does the Does the Judgment: believe they Does the worker employer set worker have employer Is the Is the work Has the have created worker receive pay amount, a permanent provide the work not performed worker a employer– receive a insurance, work hours, or indefinite necessary necessarily integral to the withdrawn employee guaranteed pension plan, and manner in relationship tools and/or dependent on employer’s from the relationship? wage or sick days, which work is with the equipment special skills? business? competitive salary as or other performed? employer? and bear the market to opposed to a benefits that risk of loss work for the fee per task? suggest an from those employer? employment investments? relationship? Fair Labor Standards Act (Centered YES YES YES YES YES N/A N/A N/A YES on degree of economic dependence on employer) Internal Revenue 1 2 3 Code (IRC) YES YES YES YES YES N/A YES YES YES (Centered on control) Nationwide Mut. Ins. v. Darden N/A N/A YES YES YES YES YES YES YES (ERISA and other laws)4 Common Law (From YES YES YES YES YES N/A YES YES YES Restatement Second of Agency § 220) Note: “Yes” contributes to a conclusion that the worker is an “employee”; “N/A” indicates the factor is not considered under the specified law. 1 The IRS looks at the role of the work as an indicator of control – if the work is “key” to employer’s business, the employer will likely have the right to direct or to control the work) 2 The IRS also specifically looks at whether the worker has a high degree of unreimbursed expenses. 3 The IRC does not use “business judgment” as a term, but does ask if the worker’s services are available to the market directly. 4 The Supreme Court draws its multi-factor test from Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Darden, 503 U.S. 318 (1992). or terms of service. But their relationships with intermediaries independent workers typically have only fleeting relationships are not so dependent, deep, extensive, or long lasting that we with their final customers. For this reason, we see no evidence that Canada, for example, has sought to apply the status to its should ask these intermediaries to assume responsibility for all intermediaries and independent workers. aspects of independent workers’ economic security. They are not true employees. Thus, the existing employee–independent THE GRAY AREA contractor dichotomy does not offer a satisfying or reliable path in these new and emerging circumstances. The heart of the challenge for independent workers is that they do not resemble independent contractors or employees with Forcing these new forms of work into a traditional employment respect to their most fundamental characteristics. Independent relationship could be an existential threat to the emergence workers typically have little individual bargaining power and, of online-intermediated work, with adverse consequences as a result, do not have the ability to negotiate contracts with for workers, consumers, businesses, and the economy. At the either intermediaries or their ultimate customers that could same time, relying on the existing employee–independent secure for them the protections and benefits that are available contractor dichotomy to classify workers whose circumstances to employees. They are not true independent businesspeople in do not easily fit either definition risks depriving those workers that they do not have freedom to negotiate their compensation of any benefits or protections of the social compact, and risks 8 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

11 BOX 1. An Example A simple hypothetical example illustrates a representative challenge posed by the existing employee–independent contractor dichotomy. Imagine an independent worker driving around her city in her car. She has apps for Uber and Lyft open on separate electronic devices. She is waiting for a customer who is seeking a ride from the area in which she is driving to another part of the city. Two questions arise: (1) Should the driver be compensated for this waiting time? And, if so, (2) who should compensate her? Under existing FLSA doctrine, and assuming the driver is an employee, whether the driver’s waiting time constitutes compensable work hours turns on the question of whether the driver is “waiting to be engaged” or “engaged to wait.” This distinction, in turn, depends on whether the driver can use the waiting time for her own personal purposes. If she can, she is waiting to be engaged and does not qualify to be paid for the waiting time. If the employer controls the employee’s movement during the waiting time, or there is too little time available for personal activity, the employee is engaged to wait and entitled to compensation. In this context, it seems the better argument is that the driver is waiting to be engaged. She can turn off the apps at will and go to her traditional job, undertake another moneymaking activity, drive her children to school, or park by the side of the road and take a nap. Even if she does not turn off either app, she is not obligated to pick up any particular customer. She can wait for a customer of her choosing, or until after she has completed her personal activities, whatever they might be. Let’s assume for purposes of reaching the second question, however, that this legal conclusion is incorrect and that the driver is deemed to be engaged to wait. She has two apps open: one for Uber and one for Lyft. Who should pay the driver for this waiting time? Both Uber and Lyft? Whichever intermediary offers the ride that the driver ultimately accepts? Whichever intermediary offers the most rides to this driver during that day? We should not pretend that existing FLSA doctrine answers this question since there is no analogy in the employee–employer relationship to a driver with two simultaneously open apps for different services. This situation is not joint employment. If anything, Uber and Lyft are competitors for the driver’s services, not co-employers. The best legal answer seems to be that there is not a good answer. the erosion of the social compact for employees. If the dual for the service provided by independent workers through its app. But the intermediary exercises no further control over goals of labor and employment law are increased efficiency how and whether a particular independent worker will serve and protection of workers from the consequences of unequal a particular customer. The intermediary is typically rewarded bargaining power, then the status quo serves neither goal in the case of independent workers. for its services with a predetermined percentage of the fee paid by the customer to the independent worker. INDEPENDENT WORKERS The best known of these kinds of triangular relationships are Independent workers operate in a triangular relationship: drivers providing ride-sharing services to customers brokered they provide services to customers identified with the help of through online apps provided by Uber and Lyft. Somewhat intermediaries. The intermediaries create a communications less famous are the independent workers doing odd jobs like channel, typically an “app,” that customers use to identify landscaping, maid service, home repairs, and other tasks for themselves as needing a service—for example, a car ride, customers using similar apps provided by intermediaries such landscaping services, or food delivery. (An intermediary need as Taskrabbit and Thumbtack. There are several especially not utilize the Internet to match independent workers and important aspects of these triangular relationships. First, the customers, but we initially focus on online intermediaries independent worker provides personal services only when because they have the greatest potential to disrupt working she chooses to do so. The intermediary plays no role in this relationships.) The intermediaries’ apps allow independent decision. This is qualitatively different from an employment workers to select which customers they would like to serve. The relationship, even one in which a worker may be allowed to intermediary does not assign the customer to the independent work from home or to choose flexible working hours. The worker; rather, the independent worker chooses or declines independent worker chooses when and whether to work at all. to serve the customer (sometimes within broadly defined The relationship can be fleeting, occasional, or constant, at the limits). However, the intermediary may set certain threshold independent worker . discretion of the requirements for independent workers who are eligible to use its app, such as criminal background checks. The intermediary may also set the price (or at least an upper bound on the price) The Hamilton Project • Brookings 9

12 The independent worker may offer her services through multiple themselves economically dependent on any single employer, intermediaries, or combine working with intermediaries and they do not have an indefinite relationship with any employer, employment with a traditional employer. Like traditional and they do not relinquish control over their work hours or employees, independent workers are integral to the business the opportunity for profit or loss. Independent workers are not of the intermediary. The intermediary’s business lives or dies independent contractors because some aspects of the methods by the provision of services by independent workers. Lyft and means of work—including the price of their services—are controlled by the intermediary and because they are integral to would not exist if no drivers were willing to provide car ride services through the Lyft platform. the business of the intermediary. Independent workers are, in some respects, like individuals working for others, and in other These relationships do not fit neatly into the employee– respects are like independent businesses (e.g., they use their own independent contractor dichotomy. Independent workers are equipment and control their own hours). Hence we propose a not employees for the following reasons: they do not make new legal and economic category of independent workers. BOX 2. The Scope and Growth of the Online Gig Economy There has been much speculation about the size and growth rate of the gig economy. We are particularly interested in the number of workers participating in the “online gig economy,” because this sector is growing rapidly and often involves workers that fall in the gray area between employees and independent contractors. As we are defining it, the online gig economy involves the use of an Internet-based app to match customers to workers who perform discrete personal tasks , such as driving a passenger from point A to point B, or delivering a meal to a customer’s house. Note intermediaries that facilitate the sale of goods and impersonal services to customers, such that this definition excludes as, a Web site where teachers sell lesson plans and other nonpersonal services to other teachers, and, a Web site where individuals sell handmade or vintage goods. It also excludes Airbnb, a Web site where people can rent apartments, houses, and other accommodations. FIGURE 1. Google Trends: Four-Week Moving Average of Web Searches 18 90 16 80 14 70 Index (Relative to Uber) 12 60 10 50 8 40 Index (Uber) 6 30 4 20 2 10 0 0 Jan. 2006 Jan. 2008 Jan. 2004 Jan. 2010 Jan. 2012 Jan. 2014 Jan. 2016 Handy GrubHub Fiverr Uber (left scale) ChaCha Lyft Mechanical Turk/ Sidecar Other Upwork/ Thumbtack TaskRabbit Amazon Turk Elance/oDesk Source: Google Trends analysis by authors. Notes: “Other” includes agentanything, axiom law, clickworker, Eden McCallum, Gengo, Gocurb/TaxiMagic, hourly nerd, Instacart, medicast, Red Beacon, Samasource, Shyp, Skillshare, trycaviar/caviar delivery, and Washio. Search period spans January 1, 2015- November 7, 2015. Google Trends normalizes the data for each term specified relative to the total number of Google searches conducted in that week, so that the time period with the most searches for Uber equals 100. 10 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

13 The Appendix table lists 26 prominent companies that act as intermediaries in the online gig economy, the types of services that they supply, and the nature of their business arrangements with workers. This list is meant to illustrate examples of emerging opportunities in the gig economy, and not to necessarily classify their workers. We are not advocating that every worker engaged with every intermediary in the online gig economy should be classified as an independent worker. It is quite common that these businesses compensate workers who utilize their app on a commission basis, with commissions taken by the intermediary typically in the 10 to 20 percent range, though commissions are sometimes higher. Some of the intermediaries control the fee that workers can charge end customers for their services, while others allow workers to propose a fee. Determining whether the workers who participate in these online markets are independent workers would require a deeper analysis of their relationship with their intermediary. Unfortunately, because almost all of these companies are privately held start-ups, little public information is available regarding their size, growth rate, revenues, or profitability. Nevertheless, we can obtain a rough estimate of their size and growth rate from Google Trends ( Google Trends enables users to track the relative frequency of searches for various terms. Specifically, we used Google Trends to compute the relative number of searches conducted in the United States containing the names of each intermediary listed in the Appendix table; we then normalized the data relative to searches for the term “Uber” each week. “Uber” is by far the most frequent term that arises in searches for the intermediaries in the table. Figure 1 summarizes the data, and shows a four-week moving average of the relative frequency of searches for each intermediary. The exponential growth rate of Uber searches since 2013 matches the exponential growth rate of Uber driver-partners reported in Hall and Krueger (2015). In addition to Uber, intermediaries Lyft and Grubhub also exhibit an exponential growth path. Searches for ChaCha, a search engine guided by humans, grew rapidly until 2012 and then trailed off as the company encountered difficulties. Figure 2 provides a bar chart on the relative number of searches for each intermediary, and combines the data for every week from January through early November 2015. The searches are indexed relative to searches for Uber. The second-most-common intermediary that Internet users searched for was Grubhub. Searches for Grubhub were about one-fifth as common as searches for Uber. (Note that Uber is shown on the scale on the left vertical axis, and all of the FIGURE 2. Google Trends: Cumulative Web Searches in 2015 100 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 Index (Relative to Uber) 18.5 20 12.4 10 3.2 3.5 3.1 2.9 1.7 1.4 1.1 0.7 0 0 Lyft Uber Fiverr Other Handy Sidecar ChaCha Upwork GrubHub TaskRabbit Thumbtack Mechanical Turk Source: Google Trends analysis by authors. Notes: “Other” includes Agent Anything, Axiom, Caviar, Clickworker, Curb, Eden McCallum, Gengo, Hourly Nerd, Instacart, Medicast, Red Beacon, Samasource, Shyp, Skillshare, and Washio. Search period spans January 1, 2015- November 7, 2015. Google Trends normalizes the data for each term specified relative to the total number of Google searches conducted in that week, so that the period with the most searches for Uber equals 100. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 11

14 others are shown on the scale on the right vertical axis.) Searches for Lyft, Uber’s largest online competitor, were only 12 percent as frequent as were searches for Uber. The skewness of the distribution of searches for online intermediaries is noteworthy. Only seven other intermediaries registered more than one percent as much search interest as Uber. The other 25 intermediaries combined generated only about half (48.5 percent) as much search activity as did Uber. We can derive a rough estimate of the size of the online gig economy as follows. First, note that in December 2014 Uber had 162,000 active drivers in the United States, and the number of drivers more than doubled every six months from 2012 to 2014 (Hall and Krueger 2015). Assuming this pace continued into 2015, Uber had around 400,000 active driver- partners in the fall of 2015. If the number of workers providing services through an intermediary is proportional to the number of Google searches—an assumption that is quite plausible for Lyft and less clear for other intermediaries—then there would only be about 600,000 workers, or 0.4 percent of total employment in the United States, engaged with all of the intermediaries in the Appendix table. If, however, Google searches translate into five to ten times as many workers per search incident for apps other than Uber and Lyft—to make an extreme assumption—then there would be about 1.2 to 1.9 million workers engaged in the online gig economy. This figure is in the ballpark of McKinsey’s estimate that 1 percent of the U.S. working-age population participates in “contingent work that is transacted on a digital marketplace” (McKinsey Global Institute 2015). There are probably many more workers who work for traditional intermediaries (i.e., that do not use apps to match workers with customers) who would be classified as independent workers than there are workers who work for emerging intermediaries (i.e., that use Internet-based apps) who would be classified as independent workers. Although precise estimates of the number of workers engaged in the gig economy are not available and must await further research, these calculations suggest that independent workers operating in online markets make up a very small share of total U.S. employment at present. However, it is clear that some intermediaries are growing rapidly, and creating a rapidly expanding new segment of the workforce. 12 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

15 Chapter 3. Principles of a New Worker Classification o identify independent workers and guide the If a worker works for two intermediaries at the same time, determination of the benefits and protections for which as illustrated by the example of a driver who uses apps they should qualify, we offer three main principles: T for Lyft and Uber simultaneously, it is unclear how the law would or should apportion total work hours between the two immeasurability of work hours, neutrality, and efficiency. companies. Moreover, a worker could spend time at home with her app turned on, waiting for a possible work opportunity, IMMEASURABILITY OF WORK HOURS while primarily performing work for another intermediary or The boundary between work and nonwork for independent engaging in nonwork activities. Conceptually, workers’ hours workers is largely indeterminable. A worker in the online gig spent waiting to be engaged in work cannot be apportioned economy could be primarily engaged in personal tasks while to a specific employer. In this sense, independent workers are one or more intermediaries’ apps are turned on. It would working for themselves and working on their own time. stretch any reasonable definition of “work” to count this time as work hours, as the example in box 1 illustrates. This fact If work hours cannot be apportioned and measured for the of the online gig economy creates an immediate problem for purposes of assigning benefits or assessing hourly earnings, implementing the social compact. Many benefits included we think it makes little sense to require intermediaries to in that compact, such as the minimum wage, overtime pay, and ACA eligibility, are tied to hours worked—and, even more specifically, hours worked for a particular employer. Determining whether and Creative destruction works to raise living for whom an independent worker is “working” is impossible or deeply standards when new entrants gain an problematic in too many circumstances advantage because they provide for the concept of work hours to translate into these emerging relationships. better goods or services, or the same There are circumstances in which goods or services more efficiently. independent workers are undeniably working. For example, a landscaper is working during the time she is mowing a customer’s lawn or trimming hedges. A driver is working while he has a customer in his car and the car is under way to the customer’s destination. provide hours-based benefits, such as overtime and the It is equally undeniable that technological developments have minimum wage. Although employees have a hard-earned made recording this time even easier than using a clock or right to these protections, independent workers can be viewed watch. Yet these independent workers are working for the as having traded these protections for the flexibility that their customer during these times, and not the intermediary. Once work arrangement affords. the connection between customer and independent worker has been made, the intermediary has no role except to collect NEUTRALITY payment and transmit it to the independent worker. Even Creative destruction works to raise living standards when new under the broadest definition of “employ” in the law, which is entrants gain an advantage because they provide better goods found in the FLSA, the intermediary cannot be said to “suffer or services, or the same goods or services more efficiently. or permit” this work. However, when start-ups gain advantage because they skirt certain worker or customer protections, and not because they The Hamilton Project • Brookings 13

16 EFFICIENCY have developed a better product or better way of producing it, creative destruction is destructive to living standards. The independent worker contract should be efficient in the It is therefore important that businesses do not organize sense that it enables workers and intermediaries to maximize themselves to move workers into independent worker status the joint surplus that their relationship produces. For in order to gain an unfair advantage over other employers by example, independent contractor status is currently inefficient skirting legal protections and required benefits. From society’s for many intermediaries and their contract workers because perspective, it is important that businesses not choose to the intermediary avoids providing benefits that would make structure their work relationships to meet the definitions of both the worker and the intermediary better off to reduce independent workers or independent contractors in order to the chances of the relationship being ruled an employment free ride on other employers with respect to providing certain relationship. We believe that legal uncertainty, and the benefits, such as health insurance. intentional and unintentional misclassification it facilitates, are significant contributors to this inefficiency. Neutrality also requires that workers in “old economy” jobs who meet the definition of independent worker, as opposed These principles are of first-order importance in guiding to independent contractor or employee, should be classified as the reform of labor, employment, and other laws concerning “independent workers.” For example, as argued in the analysis independent workers, although we acknowledge that progress below, many taxi drivers who are currently classified as in meeting one of the principles can conflict with progress independent contractors could be deemed to be independent in meeting another. For example, crafting rules to ensure workers, depending on their terms and conditions of work. In neutrality could create uncertainty that, at least in the short this way, taxi drivers would be treated just like independent run, could reduce efficiency. Nevertheless, explicitly specifying workers who provide rides through the Uber and Lyft the key objectives and recognizing the trade-offs involved is a platforms. first step toward devising a more rational system. 14 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

17 Chapter 4. Legal Reform for “Independent Workers” FREEDOM TO ORGANIZE AND COLLECTIVELY n view of these principles, we propose that Congress, and BARGAIN state legislatures where applicable, enact legislation that would guarantee or permit the following benefits and I Antitrust laws should be amended to allow independent protections for independent workers to ensure they can benefit workers to organize for the purpose of aggregating their from America’s social compact. It is worth noting that federal individual bargaining power so they may bargain successfully law problems can be solved with a single act of Congress that with their intermediaries over the terms and conditions of amends the applicable tax, labor, and employment laws, as their work. Collective action could address imbalances in well as antitrust statutes, as appropriate. We acknowledge that bargaining power between individual independent workers proposed legislation addressing multiple subjects often faces and intermediaries and thereby give independent workers the difficult challenge of working its way through multiple some ability to influence their compensation and benefits committees with different jurisdictions in each house of while providing them an opportunity to gain a voice in their Congress. Nonetheless, the only way to ensure inclusion of relationships with intermediaries. The ability to organize all of the protections and benefits we consider important to would also make independent worker status more neutral independent worker status is a single omnibus bill. State law with respect to employee status. changes may also be required to address workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance issues. States with their own Collective action by employees is protected by the National antitrust and workplace laws may need to amend those statutes Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In principle, the NLRA to reconcile them with Congress’s amendments to federal law, safeguards employees’ “right to self-organization, to form, join, if federal law changes do not override state laws. or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other While an argument might be made that courts or administrative concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining agencies could use their existing authority to address a few of the or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the problems created by the emergence of independent workers, the right to refrain from any or all of such activities” (29 U.S.C. evolution of an entirely new third legal classification for workers § 157). The NLRA seeks to enforce these rights by deeming should not be left to judges or regulators. Our principal concern certain employer and union behaviors that infringe them to is not the typical process argument around the propriety of be “unfair labor practices” that may be remedied by order of unelected judges and regulatory officials making certain policy the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (29 U.S.C. § 158). decisions rather than the democratically elected branches of The NLRB is the administrative agency created by the NLRA government. Rather, our objection is that courts do not have the to which Congress delegated responsibility over private sector- power, on their own, to ensure that independent workers receive labor relations. In addition to prosecuting and adjudicating their full and fair share of the social compact—that is, the full unfair labor practices, the NLRB administers elections complement of protections and benefits that must be established that determine whether a majority of an identified group of by statute. Moreover, courts do not have sufficient authority employees wants to be represented by a union. If a union wins to ensure a fully efficient solution to the problems created by a representation election, or secures voluntary recognition the emergence of independent workers. Similarly, regulatory from an employer with majority support within a group of agencies like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. employees, then the union is the exclusive representative of all Department of Labor do not have the authority to provide all of employees in that “bargaining unit” (29 U.S.C. § 153(b)). these benefits or an efficient outcome. A comprehensive solution will necessarily require Congress taking action followed, where Because they are not employees, in our proposal independent necessary, by state legislatures. workers would not be covered by the NLRA and, therefore, would not have access to the NLRB and its processes, or to any We propose the following reforms. of the NLRA’s remedies (29 U.S.C. § 152(3)). In some regards, this may be beneficial for independent workers’ organizing The Hamilton Project • Brookings 15

18 prospects. The NLRA has been long derided as ossified, government alleged antitrust violations under the Sherman ineffective, and lacking in effective remedies for violations Act. Settlements prohibiting any such organizing effectively 4 of employees’ rights to organize and bargain collectively foreclosed the physicians’ efforts. (Estlund 2002; Weiler 2009). Many unions have migrated away Employees represented by unions do not face the same from organizing workers through NLRB elections to private antitrust limitations. Unions benefit from a “labor exemption” “neutrality and card check” agreements with employers that from antitrust law when they engage in core activities such operate outside the scope of the NLRB (Brudney 2005). In part as organizing, bargaining with employers, or administering because the NLRA does not effectively safeguard workers’ collective bargaining agreements. The exemption flows from freedom to choose a union, the private sector union density very broad language in section 6 of the Clayton Antitrust Act: rate in the United States has declined from a high of 37 percent in 1955 to below 7 percent in 2014 (Bureau of Labor Statistics The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of 2015; Kleiner 2001; Lui 2013). commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor . . . The advent of many of the same technologies that make organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help . . . or intermediaries possible has reduced the transaction costs of to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations organizing independent workers. Mass organizing on Twitter, from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media platforms is in its shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held early stages, but opportunities may exist for creative organizers or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in to build significant power for independent workers if they are restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws. (Clayton Antitrust not subject to the detailed and burdensome requirements Act, 15 U.S.C. § 17) of a private sector labor law designed for different kinds of work relationships and workplaces. To facilitate organizing Further reinforcing the labor exemption, and to cure courts’ efforts, intermediaries could even be required to provide inability to resist interventions against unions in disputes organizations seeking to represent independent workers with employers during the first third of the twentieth century, with the contact information of independent workers both section 20 of the Clayton Antitrust Act (Clayton Act) and who work with the intermediary. Nascent organizing efforts section 4 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibit injunctions by some independent worker groups have already begun that would limit employees’ ability to organize into unions (; Hudnall 2015). and bargain with their employers (29 U.S.C. § 101). The main legal challenge for independent workers’ organizing The “labor exemption” is generally available only when a bona activity is federal antitrust law. Section 1 of the Sherman fide labor organization is promoting legitimate labor interests Antitrust Act (Sherman Act) establishes that “every contract, rather than entrepreneurial or other interests unrelated to combination . . . or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or the employer–employee relationship. The labor organization commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, also must act independently of any nonlabor group. These is declared to be illegal” (15 U.S.C. § 1). Section 2 of the limitations seek to ensure that labor unions focus their Sherman Act makes it a misdemeanor to “monopolize, or organizing and bargaining efforts on the labor market rather attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any than on disrupting free competition in product and service other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the markets. trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations” (15 U.S.C. § 2). Similarly, Section 3 holds that “every Columbia River Packers Assn., The Supreme Court held in contract, combination . . . , or conspiracy, in restraint of trade Inc. v. Hinton (315 U.S. 143 1942), that the exemption is not or commerce” is illegal (15 U.S.C. § 3). The purpose of these available to associations of independent contractors because provisions is to protect free and unfettered competition in they cannot form a bona fide labor organization under labor product and service markets from untoward efforts to “fix” law or negotiate over an employment relationship that does the competition for the benefit of particular competitors or not exist. Hinton and its progeny may doom any hope that for competitors against consumers. the Clayton Act can be interpreted to protect independent workers’ organizing from antitrust attacks, despite the fact The risks these provisions create for independent workers that independent workers principally sell their own labor, as seeking to organize are illustrated by the challenges that contemplated by section 6’s broad declaration. It is possible independent physicians encountered in the late 1990s that an argument could be made that independent workers when they organized for the purpose of negotiating with are different from independent contractors and, as a result, health maintenance organizations and managed care that Hinton should not govern. Yet a better approach seems to organizations regarding fees, patient care, and other issues. be for Congress to craft an “independent workers exemption” In several cases involving nonemployee physicians, the U.S. from any antitrust laws that might infringe upon their efforts 16 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

19 to organize and bargain through the imposition, for example, Pooling is a common feature of employment relationships, and so the ability of intermediaries to pool their independent of court injunctions or other judicial remedies. workers to purchase goods and services would approximate To advance antitrust law’s interest in protecting product neutrality between the two statuses. Employers and employees and service markets from illicit restraints on competition, would continue to have some advantages, including favorable this independent workers exemption could include the tax treatment for retirement products and health insurance, same limitations to which the labor exemption is subject: which would provide some incentive to establish employment independent worker organizations could be required to relationships over independent worker relationships. Yet organize around and bargain over their equivalents of wages, our proposal would give independent workers a greater hours, and the terms and conditions of their contractual opportunity to participate in the social compact than would be relationships with the intermediaries. Collective efforts to available were they to be classified as independent contractors. set the prices paid by customers, for example, or to otherwise CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS define product or service market outcomes should not be exempted. Another option would be to simply include Expanding workplace antidiscrimination protections to independent workers under the NLRA. include independent workers will help make that status neutral compared with employee status, extend a key aspect of ABILITY TO POOL the social compact to independent workers, and help the labor There are potentially large efficiency advantages if intermediaries market to operate more efficiently. are able to pool their independent workers for the purpose of Employees benefit from protections provided by a broad, purchasing or directly providing or administering certain benefits for workers. The benefits of risk pooling in insurance well-developed, and reasonably effective battery of federal markets is well known. In essence, pooling helps to reduce adverse selection in the take-up of insurance that could render insurance policies prohibitively expensive and cause the entire insurance market to cease to exist (Rothschild and Stiglitz 1976). In addition, by pooling employees Intermediaries could use their scale and and jointly purchasing and administering pooling opportunities to offer independent certain benefits in bulk, intermediaries and their workers could benefit from workers a range of insurance services, tax scale economies and superior bargaining power that are unavailable to them as preparation assistance, and financial services. individuals. As a result, prices almost certainly would be significantly lower for independent workers and intermediaries than for individual purchasers, and both services and products could be greater in quality, quantity, or both. Intermediaries could use their scale and pooling opportunities employment antidiscrimination statutes. These statutes to offer independent workers a range of insurance services, tax prohibit almost all employers from discriminating against preparation assistance, and financial services. Products and their employees or job applicants on the basis of race, national services that likely would be offered include auto insurance, 5 Prohibited origin, color, sex, religion, age, and disability. disability insurance, health insurance and health care, banking discriminatory acts may relate to hiring, firing, promotions, and savings products, retirement products, and liability insurance. compensation or training decisions, job shift assignments, Currently, however, intermediaries are loath to take advantage of or almost any decision affecting an employee’s terms and pooling efficiencies because offering benefits to workers would conditions of employment. Additional statutes and presidential raise the risk that their work relationships would be adjudged executive orders add groups of employees to those protected employment by a court or administrative agency. To overcome from discrimination by federal contractors, including LGBT this inefficient predicament, we propose that intermediaries be Americans and many veterans, and impose affirmative action covered by a safe harbor provision such that pooling independent 6 obligations on the contractors. workers for purposes of providing benefits would not be legally interpreted as an indication of employee status. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 17

20 Workers who are not employees, including independent Of course, this approach would require congressional action to amend these laws. While civil rights laws have been traditionally contractors, do not have access to these federal statutory contentious topics in Congress, we believe that amending the antidiscrimination protections. Under existing law, federal employment discrimination laws is more likely than a independent workers also would not receive such protections. wholesale rewriting of section 1981 both to expand the list of In federal law, only section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981) addresses discrimination in the protected groups and to include disparate impact claims. It is also substantially more likely than crafting and enacting a new relationships formed between employers and independent and targeted antidiscrimination statute dedicated exclusively to contractors or independent workers, and it is a starkly the protection of independent workers. limited and inadequate tool when compared with employees’ protections. In particular, section 1981 prohibits only race TAX WITHHOLDING AND THE FEDERAL INSURANCE 7 although “race” is defined broadly to include discrimination, CONTRIBUTIONS ACT 8 ancestry and some ethnic characteristics. Nonetheless, independent contractors and independent workers could not Withholding taxes for employees began during World War 10 bring federal claims if intermediaries discriminate on the II as a measure to raise revenues to fund the war effort. A basis of sex, disability, or age, for example. withholding tax is an advance payment toward an employee’s final tax liability. In essence, employers deduct a certain Furthermore, section 1981 guards against only intentional amount of income from an employee’s weekly or monthly discrimination, or “disparate treatment” in civil rights paycheck, and remit the money to the IRS as an advance parlance, and not “disparate impact”—that is, particular payment of income and payroll taxes. If the amount of taxes practices that produce discriminatory results whether withheld exceeds an employee’s ultimate tax liability, then intended or not. Accordingly, if 98 percent of the relationships the excess is refunded by the IRS. Tax withholding helps entered into by an intermediary were with white independent employees to smooth their after-tax income throughout the workers because the intermediary limits its recruitment to year and facilitates revenue collection by the IRS. wealthier geographic areas in which white workers are grossly overrepresented, black and Latino independent workers Absent their employers withholding their taxes and could not bring a successful claim absent some evidence of transferring them to the IRS, employees would be responsible discriminatory intent. Otherwise, however, section 1981 for making quarterly payments to the IRS on their own, claims can be used to seek relief for many of the same kinds or saving sufficient funds to be able to pay their entire tax of discriminatory acts prohibited by the federal employment liability when they file their income tax return. Independent discrimination laws. contractors are responsible for their own tax payments. This can be burdensome and create tax penalties if it is not done Section 1981 differs from federal employment discrimination properly, and also can cause fluctuations in consumption and laws in some ways that may benefit independent workers, asset allocations because independent contractors may be however. For example, remedies under section 1981 are more required to make a large tax payment when filing their income expansive and generous than those available under the federal taxes. Because of these added burdens of complying with tax employment discrimination laws. Section 1981 claims are laws, there is reason to believe that independent contractors filed directly in court without a requirement of exhausting are less likely than employees to pay their full tax liabilities the administrative process at the U.S. Equal Employment (Gandhi 1994). So, tax withholding also can be expected to 9 Finally, section 1981’s Opportunity Commission (EEOC). produce increased tax compliance, and greater revenues for statute of limitations is longer. the federal government and the states. The most obvious and straightforward solution to inadequate Tax withholding by intermediaries would reduce workers’ antidiscrimination protections for independent workers administrative burden of paying income and social insurance would be to include them within the protections of the federal taxes. Given economies of scale, withholding services employment discrimination laws. This approach ensures provided by intermediaries would also be economically neutrality between employment relationships and independent efficient and improve compliance with tax laws. We propose worker relationships while providing more-expansive that intermediaries would be required to provide withholding protection against inefficient discriminatory acts in the services for income and social insurance taxes owed by all workplace and labor market. With this solution, intermediaries independent workers with whom they work. Tax withholding would derive the benefits of political compromises that have by intermediaries would support the principle of neutrality limited damages recoveries and force claims into the EEOC between employment status and independent worker status processes for mediation and dispute resolution. since most employees benefit when their employers withhold state and federal income and payroll taxes. 18 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

21 In addition, to maintain neutrality with employees, we Because there is no employment relationship with the propose that intermediaries pay half of independent workers’ intermediaries with which they work, and therefore no immunity provided by workers’ compensation laws, independent workers contributions toward the Federal Insurance Contributions currently are able to use tort law to seek compensation for Act (FICA) payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. injuries or illnesses that result from their work relationships Although in the long run, intermediaries are likely to shift the (for fatalities, survivors could bring the claims), assuming they ultimate burden of paying for FICA contributions to workers are classified as independent contractors. Risk of tort judgments through fee adjustments, as explained below, the assignment should create incentives for intermediaries to use reasonable of legal tax liability can potentially affect tax incidence 11 care in their dealings with independent workers. in some cases. In addition, tax shifting can take place for employees as well, so requiring intermediaries to contribute Texas and Oklahoma allow employers to opt out of their state half of FICA contributions will make it easier for employees workers’ compensation insurance system and employees of and independent workers to compare their compensation, employers that have opted out of the system are able to bring because they will be on more-equal footing. tort actions against their employers, but some employers have succeeded in significantly dulling the incentives of these Our principles that guide the creation of an independent states’ tort laws and deprived their employees of fair recoveries worker status lead us to suggest a more nuanced approach to using the limited damages remedies permitted by ERISA some other benefits, such as allowing intermediaries to opt into (Grabell and Berkes 1974). Because independent workers are workers’ compensation insurance. We conclude that it would not employees, ERISA would not be available as a tool to avoid not be efficient or feasible to require intermediaries to provide responsibility to independent workers under state tort laws this class of workers with other protections and benefits, such as overtime protection or unemployment insurance. (ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 18 § 1003(a)). Tort laws require, in most cases, that an intermediary WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE commit some act or omission before being held liable, which State laws typically require that employers provide their may more accurately reflect the nature of the relationship employees with workers’ compensation insurance. Although between intermediaries and independent workers than labor, employment, this paper is principally focused on federal workers’ compensation’s no-fault strict liability system. and tax laws, workers’ compensation insurance is the oldest Independent workers generally do not perform their work social insurance program in the United States and undeniably on an intermediary’s premises or use equipment supplied an integral part of America’s employment social compact. by an intermediary. In the case of Uber and Lyft, drivers use Therefore, we consider it a necessary, if challenging, part of their own cars. In the case of TaskRabbit and similar apps, any discussion of independent workers. workers use their own tools or other supplies (or perhaps their customers’) to work in their customers’ homes, yards, or Workers’ compensation provides cash compensation and businesses. In the case of Mechanical Turk and similar apps, medical benefits to employees who experience workplace they are typically working in their homes on their personal injuries or illnesses. In addition, it provides employees’ computers. Thus, a legitimate question can be raised whether survivors with compensation in the event of a fatality. It an intermediary should be expected to take responsibility for is a strict liability system—that is, the employee need not injuries, illnesses, or fatalities that are more likely than not show that the employer was negligent or otherwise at fault beyond its control, particularly absent any proof of an ability in order to collect benefits. Payments are made based on to avoid the injury through reasonable care. a state-established matrix that principally considers the severity of the employee’s work-related injury or illness and It is possible to imagine circumstances in which an the employee’s tangible economic losses. For example, an intermediary’s negligence may cause an injury to an employee’s permanent total disability would result in greater independent worker. For example, Task Rabbit may have compensation than a partial impairment (Burton 2009). received complaints from independent workers that a particular customer has threatened violence against them. If Workers’ compensation itself is the product of a grand Task Rabbit were to send another independent worker without bargain. In principle, employees receive reasonably predictable prior experience with the customer to that customer’s home compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses without for an odd job while negligently misrepresenting that there the cost and complication of proving in court that their had been no complaints against that customer, then tort employers failed to protect them from injury or illness. In liability might be possible if the customer were to attack the return, employers receive immunity from costly lawsuits under independent worker. Similarly, Uber, Lyft, or other driving state tort laws that could result in judgments against them that services might require their drivers to submit information could be many multiples of the amounts they pay for any single through their apps while driving in a manner that unduly workers’ compensation claim, or even substantially more. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 19

22 distracts the drivers and leads to accidents and driver injuries. employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, Tort liability might be possible in these circumstances as well, and not to those who voluntarily opt out of their jobs or stop working temporarily by choice. Employers pay a tax on their and provide an appropriate remedy. payrolls to fund unemployment insurance benefits for laid-off Although the tort system may often be the best solution employees, although, ultimately, employer-funded benefits of for addressing work-related injuries for intermediaries and this sort are often funded largely out of workers’ wages. Since independent workers, it is possible that in some instances independent workers are not employees, and they would not workers’ compensation insurance would offer a more efficient be eligible for unemployment benefits, their earnings would solution, although workers’ compensation would be rife with not be subject to this payroll tax (Woodbury 2009). adverse selection concerns if employees can opt into the system. Consistent with our discussion of pooling arrangements above, We therefore propose that intermediaries be permitted to opt intermediaries should be permitted to pool resources across to provide expansive workers’ compensation insurance policies workers and create a private unemployment insurance system, to the independent workers with which they work without or a system of individual accounts for independent workers transforming these relationships into employment. In exchange 13 who stop working. for this no-fault insurance coverage, intermediaries would receive Such a system could come about as a result of collective bargaining between independent workers and limited liability and protection from tort suits. States would intermediaries, or it could be established by intermediaries provide the legal framework within which these policies would acting on their own. Organized independent workers may also operate, but not operate the systems themselves. States could require that the policies provide the same level or more protection seek protections against or compensation from intermediaries to independent workers than their state workers’ compensation that cease doing business with particular independent workers for economic or other reasons that lack sufficient cause. system. While opt-in and voluntary systems of insurance can Facilitating any or all of these systems would move independent create adverse selection and moral hazard problems, experience worker status closer to neutrality with employee status and with these policies could inform design changes that might improve the efficiency of the labor market. reduce these risks over time, and intermediaries would have the right to opt out of the system and be subject to tort actions if AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND HEALTH INSURANCE adverse selection and moral hazard cause workers’ compensation insurance to be prohibitively expensive. Maintaining neutrality between independent workers and employees after the employer mandate that is part of the WAGE AND HOUR PROTECTIONS AND ACA takes effect presents an important set of challenges. The UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE mandate, also known as the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision of the Affordable Care Act, requires that firms As discussed in greater detail above, measuring the working with fifty or more full-time equivalent employees offer health hours of independent workers in the same manner as the hours insurance that meets minimum value and affordability of employees is impossible. This reality of the independent worker–intermediary relationship makes certain rules that standards for their employees. Employers who do not offer such coverage to at least 95 percent of their full-time depend on the measurement of working hours—particularly a employees are subject to a penalty. The threshold for full- minimum wage for each hour worked and overtime for hours worked in a week in excess of forty—impossible to properly time employment under the statute is thirty or more hours administer for independent workers. Since their circumstances of work per week (26 U.S.C. 43 § 4980H). However, because work hours are immeasurable for independent workers, are quite different, neutrality does not require the same legal determining eligibility for the mandate and for coverage treatment of independent workers and employees. Accordingly, under the mandate is problematic. Nonetheless, in our view, similar to independent contractors, independent workers would not be covered by the FLSA’s requirements of overtime independent workers should benefit from the social compact 12 Rather, our view pay and the minimum wage in our proposal. that supports employer-provided health insurance, and their intermediaries bear some responsibility under that compact. is that compensation and benefits issues should be the subject of bargaining between (preferably organized) independent If independent workers are treated like independent workers and intermediaries. Moreover, the easy entry and exit contractors with respect to the employer mandate, they would from independent work should provide some protection against not be counted toward the 50 full-time employee threshold, substandard wages and exploitative work hours. and intermediaries would not be subject to a penalty for failing to offer independent workers health insurance. As a Similarly, because independent workers control when and whether they will work, the fundamental principles of the result, intermediaries may be viewed as free riding on other federal–state unemployment insurance system do not apply. employers who provide health insurance to their independent Unemployment insurance benefits are generally provided to workers. For example, an independent worker may have a 20 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

23 Consequently, we propose that intermediaries be required traditional employment relationship with an employer on to pay a contribution equal to five percent of independent another job that provides health insurance or a spouse whose workers’ earnings (net of commissions) to support health employer provides family coverage. Such free riding would violate the neutrality principle. Moreover, if independent insurance subsidies in the exchange as a solution to the free workers turn to exchanges to purchase health insurance and rider problem and to support health insurance tax subsidies. receive tax subsidies, intermediaries will have an advantage This five percent figure could be adjusted over time depending over other employers that would pay a penalty in similar on health insurance costs and earnings growth. circumstances. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 21

24 Chapter 5. Are independent workers different from other third-party players in labor markets? , David Weil are expected to last for longer periods than an independent n his landmark book The Fissured Workplace (2014) offers a thorough account of the shift from traditional worker’s relationship with an intermediary. This suggests even I greater worker dependence upon the employer. These factual bilateral and long-lasting employment relationships distinctions that are fundamental to the task of classifying to more-diverse arrangements principally resulting from corporations outsourcing many of their functions. Whether or employees, independent contractors, and independent workers should produce different legal results. not fissuring of the workplace is the cause, independent workers are not the only workers who find themselves in some form of We hasten to add that none of these distinctions depend upon triangular relationship with customers and other enterprises technology, in general, or the use of an Internet-based app, in in U.S. labor markets. Our view is that the application of our particular. If a temporary staffing agency or a union hiring hall be limited to proposed independent worker category should not used an online app to conduct its business, our conclusions the online gig economy. In fact, the very nature of law—treating would not change because the core of their business models like cases alike—requires that this new category include any and relationships with workers would not have changed. group of workers who satisfy the definition of independent workers we offered above. Accordingly, if there are workers in TAXI DRIVERS triangular relationships with intermediaries and customers, Nearly 500,000 Americans worked as a taxi or limo driver then they should be considered for independent worker status. as their main or secondary job per month in 2015, according to a tabulation of the Current Population Survey. For the We cannot offer a comprehensive list of potential candidates tiny percentage of readers who have not encountered them, for independent worker status in this paper, but some taxi drivers transport customers from place to place by car. obvious candidates should be discussed and analyzed. In Taxi drivers may have any of three relationships with taxi particular, many traditional taxi drivers (as opposed to Uber companies. Owner-operators, in essence, are their own taxi and Lyft drivers), temporary staffing agency employees, companies: the driver owns the taxi and bears responsibility labor contractors, members who secure jobs through union for all aspects of the taxi and her work schedule, including hiring halls, outside sales employees, and (perhaps) direct potentially leasing the taxi to others. There is no triangle in sales employees occupy the points of triangles with other this relationship; rather, it is a bilateral relationship between economic actors. In some of these cases, under existing law, an the owner-operator and the customer. An owner-operator is employment relationship is formed. In others, the workers are an independent business. Independent subletters are owner- classified as independent contractors. Below we evaluate some operators without the ownership. They lease a taxi, but specific cases. In a couple of cases, by applying the principles operate it in whatever manner they see fit without direction discussed in this paper, we conclude that workers should be or involvement by the lessor. Again, like owner-operators, reclassified (or considered for reclassification) as independent the relationship is bilateral, not triangular. Thus, like owner- workers. In fact, we believe the neutrality principle requires operators, and other small business owners who lease the it. In other cases, we conclude that there should be no re- premises on or in which they work, the best argument is that classification given the nature of the work relationship. these independent subletters are independent businesses. For this latter category of work relationships, we find that The triangular relationship and more complicated classification there are meaningful differences from the independent task comes with workers who rent or lease taxis for a day or worker-intermediary relationship. As we explain below, in longer, but who essentially work for the taxi company that several cases, the employer exercises more control over the leases the cab. The driver may pay a flat rental fee for the use worker’s work hours, work tasks, and means of performing of the taxi for a specified period or receive a portion of the the work. As a result, work hours are not immeasurable like day’s fares from the taxi company. Since the lease suggests the those of independent workers, and the employer’s greater drivers have assumed some or all of the risk of opportunity control contributes to the worker’s greater dependence or loss, these workers are typically classified as independent upon the employer. In addition, some of these relationships 22 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

25 drivers should qualify as independent workers in our proposed contractors. However, the rented taxi is branded with the cab legal architecture would apply equally well to many taxi drivers’ company’s name, telephone number, and (perhaps) Web site work relationships. Furthermore, assigning a similar legal address. Customers who do not hail a taxi on the street (a status to workers in the same relationship with an intermediary, practice that is usually limited to a few large cities and many regardless of the nature of the technology employed, will support airports) place an order either by phoning the cab company’s the neutrality principle. dispatcher, completing a form on the company’s Web site, or using an “e-hailing app” when one is available. The cab TEMPORARY STAFFING AGENCIES company then dispatches a taxi driver to pick up the customer using a two-way radio system, an in-taxi mobile data terminal, Agencies such as Kelly Services and Manpower provide or some other communications device. temporary workers to client employers to perform work ordinarily undertaken by the client’s employees, typically in Apart from the technological difference, this relationship the client’s workplace. One common compensation scheme between drivers and taxi companies closely resembles the involves the temporary staffing agency receiving a percentage triangular relationship between independent worker-drivers, of the temporary worker’s hourly wage for every hour worked. ride services such as Uber and Lyft, and riders. It also has There is little question that the client employer forms an some indicia of the independent contractor relationship and employment relationship with the worker because it controls other indicia that it is an employment relationship, just like almost all aspects of the employee’s work and, at least for the independent workers in the online gig economy. There are duration of the relationship, the employee does not and cannot two principal nontechnological differences that make taxi work for anyone else during the hours committed to the client drivers more like employees than independent contractors. employer. For this period, the employee is economically First, Uber, Lyft, and other online ride services do not dependent on the client employer and, to the extent it shares require drivers to rent the services’ cars. Plainly, both taxi decision-making with its client, with the temporary staffing drivers and online ride service drivers invest capital in the agency. These important characteristics of this relationship enterprise—cash for taxi drivers, personal cars for the online distinguish it from the independent worker’s relationship with ride services’ drivers—and thereby take on some opportunity the intermediary. for profit or loss. Yet the drivers for the online services look more like independent contractors in this regard. Drivers for A question may arise, however, about whether the temporary the online ride services can benefit by taking a tax deduction staffing agency is a “joint employer” of the temporary 14 for depreciation of their vehicles and from the opportunity to In some cases, for example under the FLSA, the worker. use their vehicles at their discretion for purposes other than answer is usually “yes.” But this relationship also differs driving the services’ customers. Taxi drivers derive neither from the independent worker–intermediary relationship. benefit. The taxi companies’ greater control over the vehicles’ The temporary staffing agency ordinarily conducts a skills use and its condition, as well as their ability to depreciate assessment when it begins working with a temporary worker. the vehicles, suggests that the taxi drivers may be more like Based on this skills assessment, the agency decides the clients employees than the online ride services’ drivers in this regard. and jobs to which the temporary worker will be referred. It exercises significant control over the employment relationship Second, with the exception of rides hailed on the street, taxi in this way. Presumably, the worker may refuse some number of companies appear to have more control over matching customers assignments, but the desire to sustain a continuing relationship and drivers than the online ride services. Taxi companies often with the temporary staffing agency would limit these choices. decide which taxi will pick up each customer, whereas the online The temporary staffing agency may also retain some ability ride services leave this choice to their drivers (or at least the choice to hire and fire the employee, or to transfer her to a new job. of first refusal), within some broadly defined rules. It also seems It almost always pays the employee and takes responsibility unlikely that a taxi driver, apart from meal and restroom breaks, for tax withholding, payroll taxes, and workers’ compensation would stop picking up riders during a shift when she must earn premiums. Furthermore, as with other employees, there back the investment in the taxi rental. Online ride service drivers is an expectation that the temporary worker will sustain do not have shifts. They float in and out of working, essentially a relationship with the agency beyond the completion of a at will. This means that taxi companies have greater control over particular assignment. In all of these ways, this relationship their riders’ work processes—another factor that suggests taxi looks like a traditional employment relationship rather than drivers are closer to employees than independent contractors. the independent worker–intermediary relationship, and it is usually treated as an employment relationship. In sum, taxi drivers who rent or lease their vehicles bear a close resemblance to the independent workers that operate in triangular LABOR CONTRACTORS relationships in the online gig economy. In particular, they share Labor contractors operate in a manner that is somewhat some indicia of independent contractors as well as some indicia of similar to temporary staffing agencies, but they play a larger employees. The same arguments that suggest that Uber and Lyft The Hamilton Project • Brookings 23

26 marketing. The goods purveyor is ultimately responsible to role in managing the temporary workers in the workplace. the customer for the quality and performance of the goods. They find the workers and provide their labor to the client Future sales will depend in large part on the quality of the employer to fill a temporary need, but the labor contractors product, not on the quality of the salesperson. directly supervise the work of the employees on behalf of the client employer, usually in the client’s workplace. In this way, The neutrality principle requires us to consider whether direct the labor contractor’s control over the employee is greater sales workers should be treated like outside sales employees than that exercised by the temporary staffing agency, and an given the similarity in their functions, or whether they should employment relationship is more likely, as a result. be independent workers. Direct sales workers also affiliate UNION HIRING HALLS with a company and sell its products. However, there is often a meaningful difference: direct sales workers typically have In certain industries such as construction and maritime, some greater freedom than outside sales employees to make decisions employers find new employees through hiring halls established about how, when, and to whom they will sell the company’s and managed by the unions with which the employers have a products. For example, they generally have the ability to set collective bargaining relationship. The employer identifies a job their own work hours and days without any direction from the opening, contacts the hiring hall in search of a union member purveyor of the goods they sell. Direct sales typically involves to fill the job, and the union runs a form of competition among face-to-face discussions (or the use of personal social media its members—often based, in part, on objective factors like channels like Facebook) and product demonstrations that may seniority in the union, industry, and/or occupation—to fill the be targeted to friends, neighbors, family, and others. Direct job. The successful union member becomes an employee of the sales workers usually earn commissions, but they receive no 15 employer for the duration of the job. salary. Like independent businesses, some direct sellers have the opportunity to recruit additional workers to sell their Unlike with independent workers, that relationship with the products and, in return, may receive a portion of the new ultimate customer—the employer—is not fleeting. It can last seller’s commissions from the company. For these reasons, months or years. Unlike with temporary workers, the union under existing law, they are generally treated as independent is not a joint employer. It has no role in the employment contractors rather than as employees. relationship after running the employment competition. The hiring occurs according to criteria determined by the Although they may not be employees, the question of whether employer, not the union, with certain boundaries established direct sales workers should be classified as independent through collective bargaining. Furthermore, the union is workers turns principally on the answers to three questions. an instrumentality of the collective of its members. It has First, what is the extent of the product-purveying company’s no independent interest or profit motive. In fact, it receives involvement with the direct sales worker’s customers? If no payment for running the hiring competition. Rather, the company plays a role in identifying potential customers its payment comes in the form of regular dues from its and connecting them to the direct sales worker in a manner members—a payment for collective bargaining and other that resembles the efforts of intermediaries in the online gig services rendered—and per capita contributions from the economy, then the direct sales workers may be independent employer to a trust fund established to finance the hiring hall. workers. In other words, the workers, companies, and customers may have the kind of triangular relationship that OUTSIDE SALES EMPLOYEES AND DIRECT SALES characterizes the independent worker status. Second, does WORKERS the company or the worker bear the risk and opportunity Outside sales employees may be the least like independent for profit and loss? Independent workers primarily bear workers of these examples. They typically receive commissions the risk associated with the amount of time and effort they for selling an individual company’s goods within a territory or invest in providing direct customer service. Their additional to a list of customers and prospective customers provided by investments, like the use of a personal car or tools, are limited. that company. Some may receive a small base salary that may But if direct sales workers are required to invest in a sizable 16 or may not be charged against the commissions. Critically, inventory of products that they may or may not be able to sell, these sales transactions are conducted at the customer’s whether for themselves or for the sales teams they assemble, place of business, not at the seller’s facility. Yet the principal then they are operating more like independent businesses difference between sales employees and independent workers and probably should be classified as independent contractors is that the former sells goods and the latter sells services. This rather than as independent workers. Third, does the purveyor is more than mere difference in form: In addition to exercising of goods exert other forms of control over the workers, such some control over territories and target customers, the as requiring uniforms? If so, this would militate in favor of a company purveying the goods makes every decision about the determination of independent worker status. goods, and often controls aspects of the sales system, including 24 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

27 Chapter 6. Economic Analysis of the Proposal Although, as noted above, some countries have established a n the face of new and emerging work relationships in the online gig economy, this proposal aims to improve worker default rule of this sort, careful deliberation and debate would be required to determine if a default rule is appropriate in the classification in three significant ways: reducing legal I uncertainty, enhancing economic efficiency, and strengthening context of the U.S. labor market. the social compact. ENHANCING ECONOMIC EFFICIENCY REDUCING LEGAL UNCERTAINTY In an ideal labor market with no frictions and perfect information, the cost of many of the benefits that employers are One of the goals of our proposal is to reduce legal uncertainty legally required to provide to employees would be ultimately associated with the determination of employee, independent borne by employees themselves in the form of lower wages. In contractor, and independent worker status. In the short run, other words, the cost of benefits—like taxes—can be shifted a change in law may introduce some additional uncertainty from one party to another. Indeed, in the case of mandated as new statutory, regulatory, and judicial rules are interpreted benefits, the likelihood of shifting costs from employers to in the context of real-world factual circumstances and employees is even higher than it is for taxes since employees information about the changed legal rule spreads. It is directly value the benefits that they receive, which leads to an not uncommon, for example, for the amount of litigation outward shift in labor supply (Summers 1989). associated with a particular statute or regulation to increase temporarily after an amendment is adopted because the Of course, the labor market often is characterized by frictions amendment disrupts received understandings of the meaning and imperfect information. This is particularly likely to be and application of the law. Congress could also increase the case in traditional employment relationships, where the uncertainty if new laws are laced with ambiguous language. employment relationship is expected to endure and employees and employers make investments in the relationship. Moreover, On the other hand, a third legal category governing the individual employees typically face bargaining disadvantages treatment of workers will also reduce uncertainty in both compared with employers. In this situation, the assignment of the short and long terms. Legal rules defining “independent which party is initially required to pay for benefits can affect workers” can and should more closely reflect the actual the party that ultimately bears the cost of the benefits. The experience of workers in that category than the current default can matter in a bargaining model. definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor.” As a result, employers, workers, lawyers, regulators, and judges Research has found that 80 percent or more of employers’ seeking to apply this new definition to the facts of a particular costs of providing employee benefits, such as health insurance case may find reaching a conclusion about how the law applies or workers’ compensation insurance, is ultimately borne by to these workers both easier and less uncertain. An apt employees in the form of lower wages (Gruber 1994; Gruber metaphor is a large tent that is suspended between two poles and Krueger 1991). In addition, the lion’s share of payroll taxes positioned at distant ends. With only the two poles, the middle are likely to be shifted from employers to employees because of the tent will flap sloppily in any reasonably strong wind. But labor supply is more inelastic than labor demand. the introduction of a third pole to hold up the middle of the tent will reduce the flapping and give more shape to the tent, These observations suggest that most of the economic impact even if the tent is not perfectly taut. of requiring intermediaries to provide certain benefits or pay for certain payroll taxes will ultimately be offset in the One way in which legal uncertainty could be reduced would form of lower net fees collected by independent workers and be to establish a default condition, such as a strong rebuttable higher commissions taken by intermediaries. For example, if presumption that all workers are employees. Employers could an intermediary is required to pay for half of its independent seek to rebut the presumption by demonstrating that the workers’ Social Security contributions, whereas before workers satisfy all elements of independent contractor status, independent contractors paid for both halves themselves, fee which would have to be clearly articulated in a new legal rule. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 25

28 work is already conducted by independent contractors, such as schedules that remunerate independent workers will likely taxi services, or in sectors where product markets are highly eventually be adjusted to reduce the independent workers’ competitive and employees are nonunionized. compensation by the amount of the intermediary’s Social Security contributions. The standard Coasian analysis assumes a perfectly competitive and efficient labor market with no transaction costs. However, This analysis changes, however, when the independent worker in actual labor markets workers and firms often implicitly or status enables intermediaries to provide benefits in a more explicitly (in the case of unionized workplaces) bargain over efficient manner than would be the case under independent wages and face significant frictions that create transaction contractor status. For example, if intermediaries can provide costs. Although the legal assignment of responsibility for life insurance benefits more cheaply than workers could purchase them on their own, then a surplus is created that paying taxes or funding benefits is irrelevant in a competitive enables both sides to benefit. market because the ultimate incidence would be shifted between the parties based on their relative elasticities of supply In the standard Coasian explanation for why firms employ and demand, if a work relationship is marked by bargaining workers as opposed to contracting with external parties to power, then switching the party responsible for paying for provide services, transaction costs make it more efficient taxes or benefits can have consequences for incidence. The for firms to directly employ and supervise workers than to legal assignment of responsibilities, for example, is likely to specify and monitor all of the contingencies required for their affect the default position in bilateral bargaining settings, and services in a contract. Firms thus find it more efficient to use thus to influence the ultimate outcomes. hierarchies, directives, and internal structures to ensure that STRENGTHEN THE SOCIAL COMPACT the desired work is performed. The emerging online apps have the potential to greatly reduce the transaction costs associated Over the course of the 20th Century, a social compact developed with contracting and monitoring the provision of certain between employees and employers in the U.S. that protected services. Thus, the Coasian explanation for the growth of employees from dangerous working conditions, provided a online intermediaries is that new computer and information minimum level of economic security, and defined norms of technology enables a more efficient means for companies fairness. The social compact has served workers, employers, to contract with third parties (i.e., technology lowers the and society well. This social compact is jeopardized by the transaction costs that induce companies to hire employees misclassification of employees into independent contractor rather than to contract work out). status. It is also challenged by emerging forms of work that do not fit neatly into the employee-employer relationship. The Coasian analysis overlooks the role of rent sharing, morale, and internal labor markets within firms. Because Establishing a new legal classification for independent workers employee morale is critical for productivity, and because would help to strengthen the social compact. In particular, morale is affected by employees’ perceptions of fairness, firms components of the social compact that are appropriate for often find that they must share some rents with workers in their working relationship, such as Civil Rights protection order to maintain high morale, quality, and productivity and the right to collectively bargain, would be extended to (Blanchflower, Oswald, and Sanfey 1996). Rent sharing is more independent workers. This would have the immediate effect likely to occur in less-competitive industries that have product of bringing more workers under the umbrella of important market rents to share, in highly unionized industries, and in components of the social compact. In addition, adhering highly capital-intensive industries. If networking technology to the neutrality principle would help maintain the social leads to more disintermediation of traditional employment, it compact for traditional employees by reducing the incentive could have the effect of reducing rent sharing while it raises for employers to reclassify workers as independent contractors. productivity. This is less likely in industries where most of the 26 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

29 Chapter 7. Conclusion he online gig economy represents a small but rapidly classified as independent contractors, such as taxi drivers, would also fit into this new category. growing segment of the workforce, especially in the ride-sharing and food-delivery sectors. This new T and emerging sector has the potential to provide many new Independent workers would receive some protections and benefits of employees, such as the right to organize and the opportunities for workers and customers but raises serious challenges to the administration of existing employment, requirement that intermediaries contribute half of Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes, but not others, such as labor, and tax law. In particular, the workers who utilize time-and-a-half for overtime hours. Most importantly, we intermediaries to identify customers to deliver services, such as car rides, do not fit neatly into existing legal categories of think that reforms along the lines that we propose would help independent contractors and employees. We have sought to protect and extend the hard-earned social compact that has to craft a new employment status that we call “independent protected workers and improved living standards over the past century, reduce uncertainty, and enhance the efficient workers,” to fill this void and improve the efficiency and fairness of the labor market, and reduce legal uncertainty. operation of the labor market. Many workers in the “offline economy” who are currently The Hamilton Project • Brookings 27

30 Chapter 8. Appendix APPENDIX TABLE Description of Several Prominent Online Intermediary Companies Date Formed Size Description/Business Model • Similar to TaskRabbit, but only college N/A Agent • June 2010: students perform tasks (must verify founded Anything through .edu email address). • Client posts a “mission” and a price; an interested agent accepts the mission and becomes responsible for completing it. • Also has option to facilitate bidding among agents. This model appears to be a hybrid between TaskRabbit’s new model (where the client is presented with options to choose among) and old model (where the Taskers bid for tasks). Axiom • 1,500 employees in 11 offices. • 1999: founded • Provides “tech-enabled legal services” including data analytics of contracts, due • Recently signed a $73M contract diligence, adjusting to regulatory changes, to handle a trade agreement. etc. Axiom also provides secondments • Almost $200M in sales as of summer 2015. (temporary in-house counsel). • $28M in 2013 from 1 investor. • Attorneys and staff are paid an annual salary, but only for the months actually worked/staffed on project. • Similar to GrubHub, but specializes • Caviar was acquired in August 2014 by • March 2013: Caviar in delivering to restaurants that “Square” (portable iPhone device for credit card launched ordinarily do not deliver their food. payments). Caviar received only Square stock in the transaction but was valued at $90M. • Couriers are compensated per- delivery. They are interviewed and • By August 2014, had raised background checked but not trained. $15M in venture funding. • Takes 25% commission per delivery. ChaCha • A Web site and app launched in 2006. Users • In 2006, ChaCha had over $100M in • 2006: founded funding and was generating excitement, get answers to questions—essentially, a search engine where answers are generated by however by 2015 it had laid off most of its employees and appears to be declining humans (“Guides”) rather than by an algorithm. rapidly in value and in market-share. • Guides are paid a few cents for each question they answer. ChaCha has some rules about who can become a Guide—e.g., must have access to highspeed internet, must complete training and orientation, and pass a “Readiness Test.” 28 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

31 Description/Business Model Size Date Formed • Similar to Mechanical Turk, but • Reportedly has worked with 700,000 Clickworker • 2005: founded as freelancers in 136 countries. specifically for standardized tasks that humangrid GmbH GmbH cannot be done by a computer. • 2011: relaunched • $14.2M in funding as of July 2013. • “Clickworkers” provide a variety of services, as online including taking surveys, digitalization, marketplace translation, creating content, and doing Web research. Clients come to Clickworker with a project, Clickworker breaks down the project into smaller tasks, doles out the work to individual clickworkers, and conducts quality control over the final product. • Clickworkers use their own computers and choose their own hours. Clickworker tests and trains the individual clickerworkers to determine which worker is suitable for what tasks. • Similar to Uber, but draws on a pool of • Available in 60 cities. • 2007: founded as Curb RideCharge, an licensed taxi drivers. Standard taxi rates • Draws on 35K cars from 90 cab companies. apply; the benefit to the rider is tracking online platform to • $10.7M in funding as of August 2014. the ride through an app similar to Uber. It book and expense appears the pay structure is the same as in an ground travel for business travelers ordinary taxi setting: the app merely facilitates/ modernizes the process of hailing a cab. • 2009: becomes Taxi Magic, a mobile app for ordering taxis on demand • August 2014: rebrands as Curb • Management consulting firm that relies on • 2000: founded • Over 500 independent consultants. Eden a stable of independent consultants who McCallum • Over 1,500 projects completed. are selected to teams to work on projects. • Revenue unclear, but Harvard Business Review Consultants can decline any project. reported it was a “$40M firm” in 2012. • Sellers offer services ranging from • February 2010: • Ranked among 100 most popular Web sites in Fiverr graphic design to translation. the US (and top 150 in the world) since 2013. launched • Raised $30M in Series C funding in August • The default price is a fixed $5 fee, although the fixed price can be set higher. 2014, bringing total funding to $50M. • Fiverr profits by taking a processing fee from • Claims over 300M gigs completed since 2010. the buyer and taking a cut of the fee paid to the seller. Sellers collect $4 for a $5 “gig” completed. Buyer pays a $.50 processing fee on purchases $10 and under. For purchases over $10, the processing fee is 5%. • As sellers complete orders and maintain low cancellation rates and 4+ star rating, they can move up “levels” which offer more perks—especially greater exposure on the Web site and ability to have more gigs listed at the same time. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 29

32 Description/Business Model Date Formed Size • Crowdsourced language translation • 10,000+ registered translators. Gengo • 2008: founded services headquartered in Tokyo. as myGengo • As of May 2015, had raised $24.2M in 6 rounds from 23 investors. • 2012: rebranded • Translators must pass a proprietary proficiency as Gengo exam. Translation quality is monitored. • 2013 Series B investment of $12M. • Businesses post translation work to the platform. Translators self-assess the difficulty and timeline. If interested, the translator selects the job and begins to work. • Standard rate charged is $.06/word; standard rate paid is $.03/word. Higher rates apply for more difficult work. • A large, public company that delivers food • 700 US cities and London. • 2004: founded Grubhub from local restaurants. It has begun developing • 2013: merges • Approx. 174K order placed daily. its own delivery service that will function like with Seamless • Trading on NYSE at $27.34/share on 9/14/2015. Curb’s delivery service. It previously relied on the restaurants’ own delivery teams. Handy • Allows individuals to hire home • $60.7M in 5 rounds of funding from 9 investors. • 2012: founded cleaners, plumbers, or handymen. • Available in 37 cities across US, UK, and Canada. • Individuals select a day/time and project, and Handy selects and dispatches a • By June 2015 claims to have “professional” to assist. Individuals cannot completed 1 million bookings. review or select the professional. • Professionals are background checked and insured. • Handy takes 20 percent of booking price. Hourly Nerd • Businesses hire freelance consultants (current • 10,000 consultants. • February 2013: launched MBA students and graduates) on an hourly • Raised $7.8M in Series B (in February 2015). basis. Consultants choose their own fees and create their own profiles. Businesses submit a project and outline their needs. • HourlyNerd’s algorithm generates appropriate “experts” who then submit bids for the businesses to choose among. • HourlyNerd restricts the “nerds” to those who have graduated from certain selective schools. • Consultants are also provided with a “proprietary toolkit” as well as formatting templates. • Takes a 14.5 percent commission. • Same-day shopping and delivery from stores • July 2012: founded • 7K shoppers in 16 US cities. Instacart like Whole Foods, Costco, and Petco. • $274.8M in 5 rounds of investing. • In summer 2015 Instacart divided the shopping and delivery role. Shoppers have the option to switch to employee status, but drivers may not. Most shoppers have switched. • For orders over $35, Instacart charges $3.99 for orders delivered in 2 hours and $5.99 for deliveries within the hour. For orders under $35 (but over $10), two hour deliveries are $7.99 and hour deliveries are $9.99. During “Busy Periods” these base prices rise. Instacart also offers a membership that is $99/year, but free 2-hour deliveries. • On top of delivery fees, the customer pays for the groceries, which are priced based on agreements between Instacart and the retailer. 30 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

33 Description/Business Model Date Formed Size • $1B in venture funding. • Summer 2012: • Peer-to-peer ridesharing app similar to Uber. Lyft launched as a • Takes a 20 percent commission. • Valued at $2.5B. short-distance • Operates in 65 U.S. cities. ride share offshoot of Zimride that connected riders and drivers for long distances to split costs (not a paid service) founded • Unknown: • N/A Mechanical • Part of Amazon. for Amazon’s Turk • Crowdsourcing online marketplace internal use connecting individuals (“Turkers”) and businesses (“Requesters”) to do work that • 2005: launched to the public computers cannot (e.g., writing product descriptions, selecting the “best” picture). • Turkers browse available jobs and complete them at a payment rate set by the employer. • On-demand “house call” doctor visits. Patients • 1.94M in 2 rounds of funding. • 2013: founded Medicast can choose from three subscription levels: • Currently operating in Miami/South Plus ($39/mo for two visits spread over 12 Florida and LA/Orange County. months), Premium ($75/mo for 4 visits over 12 months); On Demand (one-time visit for $249 with an added night/weekend fee of $100). • Doctors are paid according to the number of patients seen per day. They are provided an iPad with Medicast resources on it. Red Beacon • Peer-to-peer task outsourcing. • Home Depot, Inc. purchased for • 2008: founded an undisclosed amount. • Similar to Task Rabbit, but • 2012: purchased by Home Depot specifically for household services (e.g., repairing leaky faucet). • Model: (1) a client describes the size and scope of the project, (2) Red Beacon sends a list of qualified repair people, (3) the client selects up to five to interview, (4) the selected repair people contact the client to discuss the project and name a price. The client then selects one to perform the task based on reviews, description of expertise, and price. Samasource • Similar to Mechanical Turk: provides • As of March 2015 has had 6,527 workers. • June 2008: founded business services to companies. • Raised $1.5M in 12 rounds from 8 Investors. Samasource breaks down large-scale projects and sources it out to workers. • Major difference is that it is a 501(c) (3)—its central aim is helping workers in developing nations. • Samasource trains workers in basic computer skills. • -Samasource takes a “small cut” of each transaction. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 31

34 Description/Business Model Date Formed Size • March 2014: • Individuals and businesses pay Shyp Shyp • Operates in 5 cities. launched to package and send any item. • As of September 2015 it has raised $62.2M. • “Shyp Heroes” have been background checked and “extensively” trained at Shyp Academy. They are not allowed to accept tips. • Shyp appears to be moving away entirely from peer-to-peer or contract models and toward an employee model. Sidecar • Operates in 8 U.S. cities. • January 2012: • Similar to Uber/Lyft but drivers can set launched their own prices. Riders can also screen • $35M in venture funding. drivers by selecting a ceiling for how much they are willing to pay for a ride. This includes electing to share the ride with a stranger headed in the same direction. • Sidecar also offers a delivery service, which is now its primary focus (according to their CEO in a statement in August 2015). • Takes a 25 percent fee from each transaction. • Peer-to-peer courses/classes. • November 2010: • As of March 2014 it was valued at $20M. Skillshare founded • By March 2014 it had raised • “Teachers” create video content for the $10.8M in venture funding. • April 2011: site Web site, teaching skills from a variety of went live areas (e.g., how to use InDesign, how to build a Web site, how to do calligraphy). ”Members” subscribe to view the video classes for a monthly fee. Teachers earn money through a royalties pool and also can earn bonuses for recruiting other teachers. • Skillshare provides teachers with materials to help them get started on creating content. Skillshare also establishes “class guidelines” that teachers must follow (including resolution quality, minimum duration, and level of creativity/educational nature). • Skillshare takes 50 percent of the Premium Membership revenue. Task Rabbit • Online and mobile marketplace to • 2M users. • 2008: founded outsource small jobs and tasks. • 50,000 Taskers. • Users name a task and a price and then • $134M valuation. Task Rabbit assigns a Tasker to the job. • Task Rabbit used to be a bidding-model marketplace until its July 2014 reboot. Now, Taskers are assigned instead of bidding, they must wear a uniform, and tasks are paid on an hourly basis. • Task Rabbit takes about 20 percent commission. • 2009: founded • 150,000 professionals available. Thumbtack • Online marketplace for services (e.g., wedding officiating, personal training, wall painting). • 5 million projects/year. • Thumbtack vets the professionals • August 2014: raised $100M through Series (checking licenses, etc.). D round of venture capital funding. • Users describe what service they need performed. If interested, professionals can pay $3-25 to send a quote to the potential customer. The user then evaluates the quotes and selects a professional to complete the task. 32 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

35 Description/Business Model Size Date Formed • $7B in venture funding. • Peer-to-peer ridesharing app. Uber • 2009: launched black car service • App determines the price for each ride. • Valued at $50B. • 2012: launched • Typically takes 20 percent commission • Available in 58 countries and 300 cities. UberX (taxi-like and collects fee for insurance. service with regular cars) • Connect businesses with freelance workers • 2003: founded as • 4 million registered clients. Upwork (e.g., computer programming, translating, Elance-oDesk • 9 million registered freelancers. legal work). Similar to Mechanical Turk. • 2015: rebranded • $1B in work done per year. • A business posts a job onto the platform and as Upwork interested freelancers apply. The business interviews the interested applicants and decides. Business decides if payment is made per hour or per project. • Upwork takes 10 percent commission. Washio • “Uber for laundry.” Delivers • $13M in venture funding. • 2013: founded laundry and dry cleaning. • Customers place an order on the app, specifying a time window for pickup and drop off. “Ninjas” collect the clothes, which are dry cleaned or washed, dried, and folded. Customers can have clothes picked up within 30 minutes with WashioNow. • Ninjas must have a driver’s license, smart phone, and a car made after 2000. The Hamilton Project • Brookings 33

36 Authors Professor Seth D. Harris Professor Alan B. Krueger Cornell University Princeton University Seth D. Harris is a Distinguished Scholar at Cornell University’s Alan B. Krueger is the Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He served as Chairman School of Industrial & Labor Relations. He served four and one- half years as the Deputy US Secretary of Labor and six months of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from November 2011 to August 2013, and was a member of as Acting US Secretary of Labor and a member of President the President’s Cabinet. In 2009-10, he served as Assistant Barack Obama’s Cabinet. Beginning in January 2007, he chaired Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist of the Obama for America’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Policy U.S. Department of the Treasury and in 1994-95 he served Committee, and later founded the campaign’s Disability Policy Committee. He also advised then-Senator Obama on issues arising as Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the founding Director of the Princeton University Survey in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Economic In August 2008, he joined the Obama-Biden transition planning New York Times Research Center. He wrote for the Scene column and Economix blog from 2000 to 2009. Krueger committee’s Agency Review Working Group. After Election Day 2008, he oversaw the Obama-Biden transition team’s efforts in was named a Sloan Fellow in Economics in 1992 and an NBER Olin Fellow in 1989-90. He was editor of the Journal the Labor, Education and Transportation departments and 12 from 1996 to 2002. He was elected of Economic Perspectives other agencies. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Counselor to a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 1996, a fellow of the Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. From 1993 to 1997, he served Society of Labor Economists in 2005, and a member of the as Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, Deputy Assistant Executive Committee of the American Economic Association Secretary of Labor for Policy, and Special Assistant to Secretary Robert of Labor Reich. Prior to re-joining the Labor Department in 2004. Professor Krueger was awarded the Kershaw Prize by the Association for Public Policy and Management in 1997 in 2009, he served as a professor of law at New York Law School and director of its Labor and Employment Law programs, as well for the most significant contributions to public policy research as a visiting professor of law at Seton Hall Law School. He served by someone under age 40, elected a fellow of the American as a law clerk to Judge William Canby of the US Court of Appeals Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2002, and awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics in 2006. He earned a BS degree for the Ninth Circuit and to Judge Gene Carter of the US District with honors from Cornell University in 1983 and a PhD in Court for the District of Maine. He has published extensively on Economics from Harvard University in 1987. workplace and employment issues, from both legal and economic perspectives. He earned a BS degree with honors from Cornell University in 1983 and a JD cum laude from New York University School of Law in 1990 where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Review of Law and Social Change . Acknowledgments Disclosure The authors thank David Cho and Carolyn Wald for excellent Seth Harris has no economic relationship with any company research assistance. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and operating in the online gig economy. In the interest of full disclosure, Alan Krueger acknowledges that he has coauthored Larry Katz provided helpful comments on an earlier draft. a study commissioned by Uber in the past, although he has no ongoing relationship with the company or any other company operating in the online gig economy. 34 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

37 Endnotes programs receiving federal funding, in federal employment, and by federal Extensive litigation and administrative decision making is already under 1. contractors); Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, 38 way involving Uber and other intermediaries. See, e.g., O’Connor v. Uber U.S.C. § 4212 (1974) (prohibiting discrimination by employers and federal Techs., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116482, 80 Cal. Comp. Cases 852 (N.D. Cal. contractors against disabled veterans and veterans who served active duty 2015); Levin v. Caviar Inc., Case No. 15-1285 (N. D. Cal. 2015); Singer v. during war). Postmates, Case No. 14-1284 (N.D. Cal 2015.) Truck drivers offer an instructive example. Compare North American Van Some state laws protect a long list of groups. See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 363A.17 7. 2. (providing that it is an unfair discriminatory practice for a business “to Lines, Inc. v. N.L.R.B. [National Labor Relations Board], 869 F.2d 596 (D.C. intentionally refuse to do business with, to refuse to contract with, or to Cir. 1989) (under the National Labor Relations Act [NLRA], truck drivers are independent contractors) with Aetna Freight Lines, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., discriminate in the basic terms, conditions, or performance of the contract 520 F.2d 928, (6th Cir. 1975) (under NLRA, truck drivers are employees). because of a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, unless the alleged refusal or discrimination is because of a Compare also Redwine v. Refrigerated Transport Co., 84 S.E.2d 478 (Ga. legitimate business purpose”). Ct. App. 1954) (under state unemployment insurance law, truck drivers are employees) and Rozran v. Durkin, 381 Ill. 97, 45 N.E.2d 180 (Ill. 1942) 8. For example, Section 1981 has been applied not only to discrimination (under state unemployment insurance law, truck drivers are employees); against African-Americans and white Americans, but also against Latinos, with Nat’l Trailer Convoy, Inc. v. Undercofler, 137 SE2d 328 (Ga. Ct. Jews, and Arabs. See, e.g., St. Francis Coll. v. Al-Khazraji, 481 U.S. 604 App. 1964) (under state unemployment insurance law, truck drivers are (1987); Shaare Tefila Congregation v. Cobb, 481 U.S. 615 (1987); see also independent contractors) and Hammond v. Dep’t of Empl.,480 P2d 912 Pourghoraishi v. Flying J, 449 F.3d 751 (7th Cir. 2006) (collecting cases). (Idaho 1971) (under state unemployment insurance law, truck drivers are It is worth noting, however, that the difference in forum may disadvantage 9. independent contractors). low-wage workers who may be unable to afford private counsel to bring a There is a subtle but important distinction between a company like Apple 3. claim in federal court. Complaints can be filed with the EEOC without the and Lyft in this regard. Apple does not manufacture iPhones, which are assistance of counsel, although the EEOC is not an adjudicative body and integral to its business, but instead contracts out their manufacture to may not be able to generate a resolution of the complaint. Foxconn and other suppliers. Apple is not an intermediary that hires Ironically, Milton Friedman was a key contributor in the group at the 10. independent workers to provide personal services to third-party customers. U.S. Treasury Tax Research Department that helped develop the idea of Rather, it enters into a bilateral relationship with Foxconn in which Apple withholding taxes (Taylor 2014). buys what Foxconn produces according to Apple’s specifications. Foxconn We do not seek to address the agency law question of whether an 11. does not interact with Apple’s customers. Apple contracts with Foxconn to intermediary should be held liable for the negligent or intentionally good produce a that Apple and others sell to customers. tortious acts of the independent workers with which it does business. This 4. See, e.g., United States v. Federation of Physicians and Dentists, Inc., CA 98- is not fundamentally an employment question and it would not be resolved 475 JJF (D. Del. Oct. 22, 2001) (consent decree), by federal laws. Rather, it is an issue for state courts and legislatures. case-document/proposed-final-judgment-116; United States v. Federation 12. To the contrary, most aspects of the FLSA’s protections against exploitative of Certified Surgeons and Specialists, Inc., 64 Fed. Reg. 5831 (Dep’t child labor do not require measuring work hours. For this reason, these Justice 1999) (consent decree); Federal Trade Commission v. College of same protections should apply in the world of independent workers to Physicians and Surgeons of Puerto Rico, guard against any opportunity for this new form of work relationship to be cases-proceedings/9710011/college-physicians-surgeons-puerto-rico- used for the exploitation of children. centralmed-inc-fajardo. See generally Kennedy 2014 at 155–60; Brewbaker 2000. 13. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has been on the vanguard in considering alternative models for providing independent workers with social safety 5. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e (1964) (prohibiting net benefits. See, for example, Warner (2015). employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion); Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621– 14. The NLRB recently reconsidered and significantly expanded its definition 634 (1967) (prohibiting age discrimination against anyone at least forty of joint employment, for example. See See Browning-Ferris Indus,. Case years of age); Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 101–336 (1990) 32-RC-109684 (NLRB Aug. 27, 2015) (Decision on Review and Direction). (prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities); Equal Pay Act, 15. These jobs often have fixed terms or are associated with the completion of 29 U.S.C. § 206 (1963) (prohibiting employment discrimination between a particular task, like constructing a building or sailing a cargo ship from employees on the basis of sex by paying unequal wages for equal work). one port to another. 6. Exec. Order No. 11,246, 41 C.F.R. 60-1.1 (1978) (prohibiting U.S. 16. Perhaps because of the prevalence of commissions in outside sales, government contractors from employment discrimination on the basis Congress exempted outside sales employees from the FLSA’s minimum of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin); Exec. Order No. 13,672, wage and overtime protections (29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1)). The fact that 41 C.F.R. 60-4.9 (2014) (prohibiting U.S. government contractors from Congress felt the need to exempt these workers from the FLSA’s protections discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity); strongly suggests that it had concluded these workers otherwise would be Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 503 (1973) (prohibiting discrimination treated as employees. on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, The Hamilton Project • Brookings 35

38 References Kennedy, Elizabeth. 2014. “Freedom from Independence: Collective Blanchflower, David G., Andrew J. Oswald, and Peter Sanfey. 1996. Bargaining for Dependent Contractors.” Berkeley Journal of Quarterly Journal of “Wages, Profits, and Rent-Sharing.” 2 6 (14 4). Employment and Labor Law Economics 111: 277–51. Kleiner, Morris. 2001. “Intensity of Management Resistance: Brewbaker, William S. 2000. “Physician Unions and the Future of Understanding the Decline of Unionization in the Private Competition in the Health Care Sector.” 33 U.C. Davis Law 22 (3): 519–40. Sector.” Journal of Labor Research Review (545). Lui, Eric. 2013. “Viewpoint: The Decline of Unions is Your Problem Browning-Ferris Indus. 2015. National Labor Relations Board. Case To o .” Time , January 29. 32-RC-109684 McKinsey Global Institute. 2015, June. “Connecting Talent with Brudney, James J. 2005. “Neutrality Agreements and Card Check Opportunity in the Digital Age.” Recognition: Prospects for Changing Labor Relations Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Paradigms.” 90: (819). Iowa Law Review (OECD). “Non Regular Employment, Job Security and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 2015, January 28. “The Economics Labour Market Divide.” Daily.” U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC. Emo2014-Annex-chapter4.pdf Labor and Burton Jr., John F. 2009. “Workers’ Compensation.” In Rothschild, Michael, and Joseph Stiglitz. 1976. “Equilibrium , edited by Kenneth G. Employment Law and Economics in Competitive insurance Markets: An Essay on the Dau-Schimdt, Seth D. Harris, and Orly Lobel, 235–74. Economics of Imperfect Information.” Quarterly Journal of Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Economics 90 (4): 629–49. Estlund, Cindy. 2002. “The Ossification of American Labor Law.” Summers, Lawrence. 1989. “Some Simple Economics of Mandated 102 (1527). Columbia Law Review Benefits.” American Economic Review Papers and Gandhi, Natwar M. 1994. “Improving Independent Contractor 79 (2): 177–83. Proceedings Compliance with Tax Laws.” U.S. Government Taylor, Timothy. 2014. “How Milton Friedman Helped Invent Income Accountability Office, Washington, DC. , April 12. Tax Withholding.” Conversable Economist Grabell, Michael, and Howard Berkes. 1974. “Inside Corporate Warner, Mark. 2015. “Asking Tough Questions about the Gig ProPublica America’s Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp.” . , June 18. Economy.” Washington Post Gruber, Jonathan. 1994. “The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Weil, David. 2014. The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So American Economic Review Benefits.” 83 (3): 622–41. . Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It Gruber, Jonathan, and Alan Krueger. 1991. “The Incidence of Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Mandated Employer-Provided Insurance: Lessons from Governing the Workplace: The Future of Labor Weiler, Paul C. 2009. Workers’ Compensation Insurance.” Tax Policy and the . Boston, MA: Harvard University and Employment Law 5: 111– 43. Economy Press. Hall, Johnathan, and Alan Krueger. 2015. “An Analysis of the Labor Woodbury, Stephen A. 2009. “Unemployment.” In Labor and Market for Uber’s Driver Partners in the United States.” Employment Law and Economics , edited by Kenneth G. Industrial Relations Section Working Paper No. 587, Dau-Schimdt, Seth D. Harris, and Orly Lobel, 480–516. Princeton University. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Hudnall, David. 2015. “Former KC Uber Driver Organizing The National Strike Against the Rideshare Company.” Pitch , September 30. 36 A Proposal for Modernizing Labor Laws for Twenty-First-Century Work: The “Independent Worker”

39 ADVISORY COUNCIL GEORGE A. AKERLOF TED GAYER MEEGHAN PRUNTY University Professor Vice President & Senior Advisor Georgetown University Director of Economic Studies The Hamilton Project The Brookings Institution ROGER C. ALTMAN ROBERT D. REISCHAUER Founder & Executive Chairman TIMOTHY GEITHNER Distinguished Institute Fellow Evercore President & President Emeritus Warburg Pincus Urban Institute KAREN ANDERSON Principal RICHARD GEPHARDT ALICE M. RIVLIN KLA Strategies President & Chief Executive Officer Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution Gephardt Government Affairs Professor of Public Policy Georgetown University ALAN S. BLINDER Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of ROBERT GREENSTEIN Economics & Public Affairs Founder & President DAVID M. RUBENSTEIN Princeton University Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Co-Founder & Co-Chief Executive Officer The Carlyle Group JONATHAN COSLET MICHAEL GREENSTONE Senior Partner & The Milton Friedman Professor in Economics Chief Investment Officer Director, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago ROBERT E. RUBIN TPG Capital, L.P. University Of Chicago Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations Former U.S. Treasury Secretary ROBERT CUMBY GLENN H. HUTCHINS Professor of Economics Co-Founder LESLIE B. SAMUELS Georgetown University Silver Lake Senior Counsel Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP STEVEN A. DENNING JAMES JOHNSON Chairman Chairman SHERYL SANDBERG General Atlantic Johnson Capital Partners Chief Operating Officer Facebook JOHN DEUTCH LAWRENCE F. KATZ Institute Professor Elisabeth Allison Professor of Economics RALPH L. SCHLOSSTEIN Massachusetts Institute of Technology Harvard University President & Chief Executive Officer Evercore CHRISTOPHER EDLEY, JR. MELISSA S. KEARNEY Jr. The Honorable William H. Orrick, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution ERIC SCHMIDT Distinguished Professor; Faculty Director, Professor of Economics Executive Chairman Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on University of Maryland Alphabet Inc. Law & Social Policy Boalt School of Law LILI LYNTON ERIC SCHWARTZ University of California, Berkeley Founding Partner 76 West Holdings Boulud Restaurant Group BLAIR W. EFFRON THOMAS F. STEYER Partner MARK MCKINNON Business Leader, Philanthropist & Centerview Partners LLC Former Advisor to George W. Bush Clean Energy Advocate Co-Founder, No Labels DOUG ELMENDORF LAWRENCE SUMMERS Former Director ERIC MINDICH Charles W. Eliot University Professor Congressional Budget Office Chief Executive Officer & Founder Harvard University Eton Park Capital Management JUDY FEDER PETER THIEL Professor & Former Dean SUZANNE NORA JOHNSON Entrepreneur, Investor & Philanthropist McCourt School of Public Policy Former Vice Chairman Georgetown University Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. LAURA D’ANDREA TYSON Professor of Business Administration ROLAND FRYER PETER ORSZAG and Economics; Director, Institute for Henry Lee Professor of Economics Vice Chairman of Corporate and Business & Social Impact Harvard University Investment Banking Berkeley-Haas School of Business Citigroup, Inc. MARK T. GALLOGLY Cofounder & Managing Principal DIANE WHITMORE SCHANZENBACH RICHARD PERRY Centerbridge Partners Director Managing Partner & Chief Executive Officer Perry Capital The Hamilton Project • Brookings 3

40 Highlights Seth Harris of Cornell University and Alan Krueger of Princeton University propose the creation of a new legal category of workers, to be called “independent workers,” to address the current legal uncertainty regarding whether workers in the online gig economy should receive employment and tax benefits and protections. Their proposal would allow independent workers to gain access to collective bargaining, various forms of insurance, civil rights protections, employer-provided benefits, and tax withholding. The Proposal Congress and, where necessary, state Create a New Classification for Independent Workers. legislatures would pass legislation to establish a new classification for independent workers. In doing so, Congress and state legislatures would consider three guiding principles in the new worker classification system to recognize that: work hours are difficult or impossible to measure, businesses should not organize themselves to fit their workers into one status over another, and workers and businesses should maximize the joint benefits of their relationship. The new classification would encompass both new types of work, such as jobs in the online gig economy, and more-established forms, such as taxi driving. Congress would assign new benefits Assign Benefits and Protections to Independent Workers. and protections to independent workers, following the proposed guiding principles. Benefits such as tax withholding and various forms of insurance would be available to independent workers without businesses facing full employment classification, while benefits tied to hours such as minimum wage and overtime pay would be excluded. Benefits This proposal would address the uncertainty that workers and businesses face in the current legal environment regarding a range of legal protections and benefits that employees receive. Harris and Krueger argue that the proposal would increase efficiency in the labor market, enhance worker protections, encourage innovation, and decrease costly legal battles by addressing a key deficiency in current employment law. 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC 20036 484 (202) 797-6 WWW.HAMILTONPROJECT.ORG Printed on recycled paper. WWW.HAMILTONPROJECT.ORG Informing Students about Their College Options: A Proposal for Broadening the Expanding College Opportunities Project 4

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