In true 2020 style, this year’s general election was one for the history books. While the presidential race has been called in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden, the inevitable legal challenges are looming. Meanwhile, Georgia will be the site of two runoff elections in January – races that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. This is not to mention the slow, and at times frustrating, process of counting an unprecedented number of ballots cast in newfangled ways. With (most of) the results finalized, many of you are wondering: What does this mean for my business?
Under an incoming Biden administration, there may be an attempt to withdraw the DOL’s recent proposed rule clarifying federal standards for who qualifies as an independent contractor. The DOL rule may be finalized before Biden takes office — it has been fast-tracked for a 30-day review – but it is possible the Biden DOL may initiate new rulemaking to amend or rescind the rule. It is most likely that any proposed rule under the Biden DOL would seek to expand the definition of “employee.”
This move would stand in contrast to California’s approval of Proposition 22 – a statewide ballot initiative aimed at the gig economy.
CA’s Proposition 22
Proposition 22, a statewide ballot referendum, overturns the state’s previous worker classification law that classified drivers for apps such as Uber and Lyft as employees, not independent contractors. On November 3, after a well-funded campaign (with nearly $200 million from tech companies), approximately 58% of voters approved the measure. Essentially, Prop 22 allows companies to classify gig economy workers as independent contractors, rather than employees. This means that these contractors continue to be exempt from benefits such as health insurance, unemployment, and even some standard minimum wage requirements. On the flip side, those workers also can work as much or as little as they want and hold lots of other jobs (which is attractive to many).
As California goes, so goes the nation? Will tech companies see Prop 22’s passage as a bellwether for gig economy legislation to come? It is too soon to tell, but the passage of this referendum will have a major impact not only in California, but likely nationwide as well.
Florida – a veteran of the election spotlight – voted to raise the state minimum wage from $8.56 to $15 over the next six years. This move made Florida the eighth state to usher in the $15 minimum wage. If you want to check your state’s minimum wage, visit the DOL’s webpage.
In Maine, the cities of Portland and Rockland approved city-wide measures to increase the minimum wage to $15 over the next four years.
President-Elect Joe Biden
Finally, like every incoming administration, President-Elect Biden will have the authority to appoint new members of the NLRB and new leadership to agencies such as the EEOC. We don’t want to go out on a limb but it is likely these appointments will skew democratic and, as much of Biden’s platform, pro-labor. Some are already speculating that Biden may support federal measures to strengthen OSHA reporting requirements during COVID-19; push for a federal minimum wage increase; and defend (and expand) the Affordable Care Act. While we are not here to make predictions, we will keep you informed of any new developments under this new administration.
For now, it’s a waiting game.