A simmering debate on whether gig workers should be classified as employees has become more urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, which has demonstrated the importance of essential workers like ride-hailing drivers and food delivery cyclists.
When the state Legislature finalized the budget earlier this month, it omitted a measure that would have created a task force to study whether gig workers should be considered employees and to propose new labor protections. With that, the debate on classifying gig workers seemed to have been mostly concluded for the year. Plus, it’s not clear if the Legislature will get a system for remote voting in place by the end of the session in June, meaning they may not be able to vote on a stand-alone gig worker bill.
But now, the New York City Council may make progress on the issue where the state Legislature has stalled – determining whether gig workers should be classified as independent contractors, as they currently are, or as employees. The council held its first official remote meeting on Wednesday, and City Councilmen Brad Lander and Ben Kallos introduced a bill that would extend paid sick leave to gig workers. The pair also introduced a nonbinding resolution that called on the state Legislature to classify gig workers as employees. Their bill would set an important precedent if it passed, or it could at the very least reignite the efforts of those who want gig workers to be classified as employees.