According to the Labor Department, employers often misclassify independent contractors as employees, locking misclassified freelancers out of benefits like tax write-offs for health insurance that they’re already paying for, all by themselves. For freelancers, it’s much, much harder to qualify for a loan, refinance their mortgage or, if they’re underwater on their homes, to find relief from loan modification programs.
I know a woman who was told, off the record, that the company that was considering hiring her would only do so on a contract basis – they didn’t want to take on the expense of hiring her because of her considerable medical bills. (She didn’t get the job.) Another associate thought he’d hit pay dirt with a high-paying, full-time salaried position at a big-name software company. But then, suddenly – right as he was ready to sign the paperwork – they rescinded their offer. Instead, they told him that they could only offer him a contract position on a project-by-project basis.
If this is how our economy is now organized, then we need safety nets for independent workers. And we need to start by acknowledging, as a nation, that while it’s all very good to talk about job creation, for many of us, a regular 9-to-5 gig is no longer a reality. Work has changed; the American worker is changing. Old-school labor paradigms no longer fit.
[ Where’s the thinking about this, rather than trying to recreate old style manufacturing jobs? And while we’re on the topic, small is the new big. Individuals manufacturing custom stuff is alive and kicking, and should become much more commonplace. As it once was. Things were lost in the rush to the assembly line.]