The continued growth of the gig and sharing (or “on demand”) economy has created income opportunities in virtually every corner of the country, allowing people to work independently and on preferred discretionary schedules, expand their businesses, and provide for themselves and their families with greater flexibility.
At the same time, remote and hybrid work have brought economic, social, and environmental benefits and will remain a pillar of work across all industries moving forward. A report from the International Data Corporation noted that the digital workplace transformation had increased employee productivity, with most organizations reporting gains of up to 25 percent. Employees are also excited by remote and hybrid work opportunities, with a 2022 Gallup study highlighting that 60 percent of remote-capable workers want a permanent hybrid work arrangement.
Policymakers should ensure that efforts to oversee or regulate new technologies further innovation and individual empowerment instead of stifling it. To that end, TechNet supports the following principles:
Gig and Sharing Economy
- Establishing an innovation-friendly policy framework as the key to the competitiveness of the technology industry, and corresponding rules, regulations, and laws should be adjusted to allow for technological neutrality. TechNet opposes regulatory restrictions and unreasonable barriers to market entry imposed to protect existing markets from competition.
- The modern workforce requires a flexible environment that allows workers to find opportunities that best match their skills, interests, and availability on their own terms. TechNet opposes efforts to eliminate or severely restrict this essential flexibility, including restrictions on the use of independent contractor and consultant classifications, inflexible overtime rules, and indiscriminate expansion of collective bargaining rules.
- Tax and labor policies should help promote economic opportunities, provide clarity, avoid creating significant administrative burdens for business creators or independent contractors, and should recognize the unique differences that exist among the business models of innovators operating in the growing gig and sharing segment of the economy.
- Improved economic assessments that reflect a better understanding of the changing nature of work and the true impact and benefits of opportunities in the on-demand economy.
- Efforts to develop new avenues and “safe-harbors” that empower companies to experiment with voluntarily providing benefits to independent workers and permit companies to promote corporate social responsibility programming where appropriate without impacting classification outcomes, especially while the economy continues to be impacted by COVID-19.
- Federal policies should promote experimentation with innovative efforts to establish portable benefits programs that provide access to benefits for classes of workers who have traditionally lacked those opportunities and empower workers to maintain benefits as they move from opportunity to opportunity. Any portable benefits program should be guided by the following principles:
- Participation by companies should extend benefits coverage to gig economy workers or independent contractors, including those who work across multiple platforms, and the program should maintain the flexibility these workers currently have while allowing technology companies to continue to grow and provide earning opportunities for more workers.
- These programs should be flexible enough to account for the differences between business models for finding work as well as differences in services.
- These programs should empower companies to provide portable benefits to workers by ensuring that extending these types of benefits does not jeopardize the independent contractor status of workers.
- Benefits under these programs should be proportional to the amount that workers choose to work.
- The program should not impede the ability of self-employed workers, independent contractors, freelancers, and other small businesses to find work online by imposing “one-size-fits-all” benefits policies.
Maximizing the Benefits of Fully Remote and Hybrid Work
- TechNet supports government policies that broaden the inclusive economic opportunities afforded by fully remote and hybrid work, including for caretakers, the disabled, and those without access to major economic centers. To that end, we support the establishment of a predictable legal framework that reflects the permanent nature of fully remote and hybrid work across industries.
- As part of such a framework, tax policies should help promote the adoption of flexible work opportunities and recognize the unique designs of these innovative business models.
- Similarly, we support public investment in broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved locations and efforts to incentivize the development of co-working spaces, which would provide for broader fully remote and hybrid work opportunities in both rural and urban environments. TechNet’s additional priorities on broadband policy can be found here.
- Considering future employment rights and obligations, TechNet also supports federal legal frameworks that amend labor laws as necessary to ensure appropriate protections and rights for fully remote and hybrid workers. Such efforts should codify the right to work outside of the office and prevent the imposition of unjustified requirements for workers to report to a single physical location.
- TechNet supports the Bureau of Labor Statistics in expanding its research into fully remote and hybrid work and its economic impact. American businesses are increasingly utilizing alternative work locations and should be included in our understanding of the modern economy’s opportunities.