It’s a relatively short drive south of Morristown to get to Middlesex. The borough’s State Sen Linda Greenstein recently said that in her two decades in the New Jersey legislature, she finds the proposed independent contractor law “the most confusing.”
Though she said the proposal is bewildering, she and others on the Senate Labor Committee voted their overwhelming support for it. Critics say the measure will hurt freelancers, losing them work and income and putting some of them out of business entirely.
The proposal is another attempt to codify how the state determines whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Senate President Steve Sweeney said it’s an attempt to stop businesses from misclassifying workers as contractors in order to pay low wages, eliminate benefits and dodge employment taxes.
Many of our readers know that New Jersey recently dropped a $650 million bill on Uber for unemployment and disability insurance taxes. According to the state, the ride-share firm misclassified drivers as independent contractors.
According to a report by a PBS station, many freelancers (writers, truck drivers, graphic designers, tutors, etc.) believe that codifying the ABC test is a flawed idea that will make it significantly more difficult for them to find work.
A trucker interviewed by WHYY said many people prefer contract work and self-employment but that the bill makes it possible that he will be declared an employee and that the classification would lose him work, rather than result in a gain in pay and benefits.
A freelance writer said even a hint of a change in law has already changed her work landscape. Publications are increasingly wary of New Jersey writers out of fear that the companies will be required to hire stringers as employees.
She said New Jersey writers “are already being blacklisted on threat of this legislation passing.”
If the measure becomes law, many employers would need sit down with employment law attorneys to assess hiring and contract processes.