June 18, 2019

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Last-Minute Legislation in New York Needs Further Examination

By
Christina Fisher, Executive Director for Massachusetts and the Northeast

On-demand economy provides work flexibility and steady income for New Yorkers

Technology has transformed the way we support our families through an entirely new form of work, known as the on-demand economy. These earning opportunities have allowed thousands of New Yorkers to take advantage of a flexible work schedule, to earn supplemental income after decades of wage stagnation at other jobs, to earn a steady income instead of relying on seasonal jobs, and to build and grow their businesses. This sector of the economy, spurred and supported by innovation, has been the solution to economic hardship for individual workers, families, retail establishments, restaurants, and other small businesses.

Surprisingly, new legislation in the New York State Legislature aims to change all of this by assuming a broad definition of the on-demand workforce and prescribing traditional workforce solutions that are incompatible with the modern workforce. Legislators plan to take action without even hearing from the very workers and businesses that the bills would impact. AB 8343 and SB 6538 were drafted behind closed doors and the bills are now being rushed through the legislative process.

TechNet and its members urge the New York State Assembly to choose a different, more transparent path and include the stakeholders whose lives will be impacted by these bills in the legislative process. An inclusive conversation would be a critical step in the direction of ensuring meaningful protections for workers that also preserve their right to work when, where, and how they choose, which should be the ultimate goal of these bills.

One-size-fits-all legislation will not work for this part of our economy because of the diversity of the companies that exist within this sector. The on-demand economy includes dog walkers and freelance coders to cleaning professionals and babysitters. Unfortunately, the bills in their current form would ignore the unintended consequences that would likely occur if workforce protections and processes meant for conventional workplaces are applied to the on-demand economy without careful consideration.

That is why an open legislative process that gives each of these workers and companies the opportunity to share their unique experiences and insight into their business model is so important.

Let us be clear: This is not an issue about whether on-demand workers should be protected, but how they are protected in this new era of flexible work opportunities. This is also not an issue about whether workers should be offered benefits, but rather how benefits can be the most effective for workers, while ensuring on-demand work opportunities continue to exist.

In order to have legislation that will work in the real world and not just in the halls of the capitol, the legislative process should include the perspectives of a broad audience, but especially the perspectives of the stakeholders whose work and business models will be directly impacted. TechNet and our members are ready to collaborate with the Governor, the legislature, and organized labor to accomplish these important goals and ensure that the on-demand work opportunities that have improved New Yorkers’ lives remains intact.

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