On-Demand Jobs Provide Relief to Government Workers

Business Insider reported that federal employees are seeking alternative work opportunities, including driving for Uber because of the federal government shutdown . The partial shutdown is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, forcing nearly 800,000 federal workers to go without a paycheck. These workers are now struggling to make ends meet and are unsure of how much longer they will have to go without pay.

The government shutdown is a prime example of why alternative work arrangements are so important and need protection especially in light of the California Supreme Court’s recent decision –Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, No. S222732 (April 30, 2018). In Dynamex, the California Supreme Court abandoned the long-standing test for distinguishing between an employee versus an independent contractor. The Court upended nearly 30 years of legal precedent and adopted a rigid three factor test referred to as the “ABC” test.  Dynamex has now placed these work opportunities in the “gig economy” at risk, as most of the services and tasks performed are by independent contractors.

Proponents of codifying the strict test set forth in Dynamex, argue that these type of relationships are just “side hustles” that should essentially be eliminated. Far from being “side hustles,” these are short-term work opportunities that are financially saving people from homelessness, inability to pay bills, or even feeding themselves. With the chance to begin earning money almost immediately after signing up to operate on these apps, it provides individuals with an alternative to relying on government resources. Whether it be federal workers waiting out the federal shutdown, or retirees seeking to supplement their pensions, the gig economy provides a broad range of individuals with an opportunity to earn income for any number of reasons. The California Legislature needs to protect these important opportunities and fix Dynamex.

Laura Curtis, Policy Advocate