Whether working full time for themselves or part time as contractors, picking up occasional gig work or having a side hustle, an estimated 64 million Americans performed some sort of independent work in 2023.
These aren’t just accountants or Uber drivers. They’re IT consultants, makeup artists, musicians, interpreters, fitness instructors, copy editors and truck drivers.
But now, their ability to be their own boss is in jeopardy. A Department of Labor rule, scheduled to take effect March 11, would significantly restrict the right to work as an independent contractor instead of being treated as an employee.
Proponents of the rule argue that workers who aren’t formal employees won’t be protected by labor laws regulating things such as minimum wages, work hours and unemployment insurance. They assume the regulation will simply shift contractors to employee status without significant changes in their work or lifestyles.