Quoted: Elizabeth Warren on ‘real problem’ of employers’ treatment of contract workers

“I think there is evidence that increasingly employers use independent contractors not in ways that were originally intended but in ways that permit them to treat employment laws differently than they otherwise would be responsible for and I think that’s a real problem.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the rise of the on-demand economy and contract workers. She was speaking at the Code technology and business conference Tuesday.

Hillicon Valley says Warren didn’t specifically comment on Uber and Lyft drivers’ classification. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft consider drivers independent contractors but are under increasing pressure to treat them more like employees. In fact, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity last week ruled that a fired Uber driver was an employee, not a contractor, and is therefore entitled to unemployment benefits. As Heather Somerville wrote, the case has potentially broad implications and could upend Uber’s business model because the San Francisco company doesn’t have typical labor costs.

In California, a new law taking effect in July will require Uber and Lyft to provide more insurance for their drivers — drivers’ personal insurance policies will no longer apply to their commercial activity.

Uber and Lyft aren’t the only companies that rely on contractors; companies such as Bay Area-based Spoonrocket, which delivers meals, calls its drivers “entrepreneurs.”

Recode notes that Warren also called on more people in the tech industry to be “engaged in government. I want them to care about it.”

 

Photo of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., by Susan Walsh/Associated Press

 

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