New York State Senator Robert Jackson (SD 31) and Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick (AD 66) have introduced landmark legislation – the Expanding Worker Dignity Act – to give rights to workers who are currently misclassified as independent contractors. Sectors of the workforce that will benefit from this legislation include home healthcare and childcare providers, nail salon workers, medical professionals with long-term assignments, and app-based workers. Many of these professions are staffed by working-class immigrants who have long been excluded from full rights because employers intentionally hire them as independent contractors.
The Expanding Worker Dignity Act (S6699/A8721) covers these workers in several sections of labor law including unemployment, minimum wage and hours, and workers’ compensation. It will also extend them collective bargaining rights, which would be a game changer for many working families.
The language in the Expanding Worker Dignity Act is based on AB5 that passed in California earlier this year, which contained a so-called “ABC” test that workers must pass in order to be correctly classified as independent contractors. The ABC test mandates that independent contractors must be free from control and direction of the hiring entity, must do work that falls outside the hiring entity’s usual business, and must usually do work in the trade they are using for the given job.
Senator Jackson and Assemblymember Glick’s bill will include special consideration for professions where workers would be negatively impacted by reclassification; both elected officials are actively meeting with representatives from these constituencies so that the Expanding Worker Dignity Act can be tailored to the needs of New York State’s labor market.
Senator Jackson said, “As a longtime labor leader, I’m excited to see this burst of interest in New York State for legislation that extends additional rights to workers who are misclassified as independent contractors. With the Expanding Worker Dignity Act, we stand to improve the lives of thousands of working families across New York State. Workers like home health aides and nail salon workers deserve to have full labor rights, and this bill will make it happen.”
Assemblymember Glick said, “For too long, employers have been inappropriately misclassifying their workers as independent contractors. Far too many hard-working New Yorkers are currently not entitled to essential worker’s rights such as a minimum wage, hourly work week standards, and eligibility for unemployment insurance. The Expanding Worker Dignity Act will put a stop to this practice to ensure all New Yorkers receive the workplace rights of which they are entitled.”