Business Brief

Freelancers Free From New Regs, for Now

By Maria Scandale | Jan 15, 2020

Trenton, NJ — A contentious bill affecting independent contractors would not be voted on before the New Jersey legislative session ended Jan. 14, Senate President Steve Sweeney said in advance.

Some independent contractors in the “gig” economy – freelancers, truck drivers, bakers, wedding photographers, musicians and others – argued it could keep them from finding work, reduce their income and even force them out of state, as NJ.com reported.

The bill, S-4204, was intended to fix a “misclassification of workers” that is apparently happening nationwide, to see that employees are properly paid minimum wage, receive benefits and are paid overtime. Companies such as Uber have been targeted as the need for such upgrade of labor laws, and at the same time, sidestepping their share of payment to the state.

But in addressing that, New Jersey’s bill would clarify and amend the definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor.”

Independent contractors testified they might stop being hired as freelancers if companies must, or fear they must, have to hire them as employees instead.

Sweeney said the measure will be taken up again in the next two-year legislative session.

“We had four hours of testimony, and we want to make it right,” he told the press. “We want to be fair to legitimate independent workers. But for the businesses that are gaming the system, we want to correct that.” —M.S.

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