This bill intends to authorize the Commissioner of Labor to hold public meetings to examine various state labor laws that regulate employment rights and benefits to identify which provisions could be extended to provide “dependent workers” with the same, or similar, rights and benefits as “employees.” While The Business Council supports holding such public meetings and the creation of a third category of worker distinct from “employee” and “independent contractor,” we oppose this bill as written for the following reasons:
- The bill is not needed. The Commissioner is currently within her rights to convene public meetings to study how various aspects of the labor law impact the financial well-being of employees and their families. One would presume that this privilege would extend to a study to determine the impact of the “gig” economy on workers in regards to protections provided by New York State labor law.
- The bill is overly restrictive. By delineating legislative intent, creating a proscriptive definition of “dependent worker,” and limiting the provisions of law to be examined by the Commissioner, the bill puts restrictions on the recommendations of the study in a way that stacks the deck against one side of the argument.
As an example, the bill states in its first section that “dependent workers shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively” the terms and conditions of employment. The right of employees to organize and bargain collectively is provided for in current state law. This state law should be added to the extensive list of other labor laws subject to review and consideration by the bill and not predetermined.
- The bill does not define “representatives of business.” As found in other areas of workers’ compensation, insurance and labor law, The Business Council is named as an important business partner in these matters. We support continuing this long-standing tradition and suggest amending this bill to reflect that.
The Business Council supports the Commissioner holding public hearings on this issue. Failing to recognize the changing nature of work will result in New York State falling behind the rest of the nation in these growth industries that provide workers with good paying jobs and, most importantly, the choice and freedom desired by today’s workers.
For the reasons stated above, The Business Council opposes this bill.