The rise of the gig and sharing (or “on demand”) economy has created new jobs and income opportunities in virtually every corner of the country, allowing people to work independently and on discretionary schedules, use their personal property to generate income, help them expand their businesses, and provide for themselves and their families. Policymakers should ensure that efforts to oversee or regulate new technologies further innovation and individual empowerment, instead of stifling it. To that end, TechNet supports the following principles:
· Maintaining the designation for gig economy workers under the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency “Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce.”
· Ensuring gig economy workers qualify for any further extension of unemployment benefits in economic stimulus packages.
· Establishing an innovation-friendly policy framework as the key to the competitiveness of the technology industry, and corresponding rules, regulations, and laws should be adjusted to allow for technological neutrality. TechNet opposes regulatory restrictions and unreasonable barriers to market entry imposed to protect existing markets from competition.
· The modern workforce requires a flexible employment environment that allows workers to find opportunities that best match their skills, interests, and availability. TechNet opposes efforts to eliminate or severely restrict this essential flexibility, including restrictions on the use of independent contractor and consultant classifications, inflexible overtime rules, and indiscriminate expansion of collective bargaining rules.
· Education and workforce development policies focusing on greater access to digital skills training across industries and empowering workers to keep their skills updated and in line with the changing demands and nature of work in the 21st century.
· Tax and labor policies should help promote economic opportunities, provide clarity, avoid creating significant administrative burdens for job creators, and should recognize the unique differences that exist among the business models of innovators operating in the growing gig and sharing segment of the economy.
· Efforts to develop new avenues and “safe-harbors” that empower companies to voluntarily provide benefits to workers where appropriate without impacting classification outcomes, especially while the economy is impacted by COVID-19.
· Improved economic assessments that reflect a better understanding of the changing nature of work and the true impact and benefits of opportunities in the on-demand economy.
· Federal policies should support innovative efforts to establish portable benefits programs that empower workers to maintain benefits as they move from opportunity to opportunity. Any portable benefits program should be guided by the following principles:
· Participation by companies should be mandatory in order to level the competitive playing field and ensure benefits coverage for gig economy workers or independent contractors, including those who work across multiple platforms, and the program should maintain the flexibility these workers seek while allowing technology companies to continue to grow and provide earning opportunities for more workers.
· These programs must recognize the differences between business models for finding work as well as differences in services.
· The program should empower companies to provide portable benefits to workers by establishing a safe harbor with respect to the independent contractor status of workers.
· The program should not impede the ability of self-employed workers, independent contractors, freelancers, and other small businesses to find work online by imposing “one-size-fits-all” benefits policies.