December 21, 2020

U.S. House Lawmakers Could Consider PRO Act Next Year

The Democratic party will hold a very narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives next year, but are still likely to consider controversial and costly legislation that will require businesses to designate more independent contractors as employees.

Indeed, last week Democrats on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee released “The Future of Work: How Congress Can Support Workers in the Modern Economy,” an 87-page report that highlights key issues that the panel will try to implement in the 117th Congress.

The report advocates for specific labor and employment legislation, including passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which, as Connecting the Dots explained last year, would codify the Obama-era joint-employer standard into law, force union representation without an election and change requirements for independent contractor status.

The committee also called for:

  • Establishing clearer tests for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor and creating penalties for employers that misclassify employees as independent contractors;
  • Regularly collecting data on the prevalence and impact of employee misclassification;
  • Ensuring that, when subcontracted workers organize a union, all companies that control the terms and conditions of work are at the bargaining table;
  • Requiring employers to have a “broad duty” to comply with health and safety standards and to protect all employees who may be harmed by an unsafe workplace or hazardous conditions, not just direct hires;
  • Ensuring portable benefit programs that do not facilitate employee misclassification;
  • Strengthening access to health and retirement benefits for all workers;
  • Creating a universal displacement assistance program, including providing displaced workers with income while enrolled in education and training;
  • Developing an enforceable set of workers’ rights with respect to hiring practices and employment decision-making using new algorithmic technologies;
  • Requiring periodic “de-biasing” and independent audits of predictive hiring tools;
  • Requiring that employers retain certain data during the hiring process so that sufficient information exists to evaluate whether an applicant was subjected to discriminatory hiring practices; and
  • Extending additional civil rights protections to true independent contractors.