The Labor Department moved Thursday to end two rules established under the Trump administration that reduced federal labor protections for millions of workers.
The two rules both dealt with classifications of workers as employees or independent contractors, a distinction that governs whether an employer is required to provide benefits, including health care.
In a statement, the agency said it was proposing changes to two rules instituted under the previous administration: the Independent Contractor Final Rule, passed by the agency just days before President BidenJoe BidenManchin cements key-vote status in 50-50 Senate The Memo: How the COVID year upended politics Post-pandemic plans for lawmakers: Chuck E. Cheese, visiting friends, hugging grandkids MORE took office in January, as well as a regulation issued by the Labor Department under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was largely gutted by a court decision last year.
“The Wage and Hour Division’s mission is to protect and respect the rights of workers. Rescinding these rules would strengthen protections for workers, including the essential frontline workers who have done so much during these challenging times,” a Labor Department spokesperson said.
“While legitimate independent contractors are an important part of our economy, the misclassification of employees as independent contractors denies workers access to critical benefits and protections the law provides,” they added. “Additionally, removing a standard for joint employment that may be unduly narrow would protect more workers’ wages and improve their well-being and economic security.”
The two rule change proposals come as the president has faced pressure from the left on the issue; California passed a ballot initiative last year that weakened a state law that previously forced rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as employees, a major defeat for activists who have argued that such companies exploit workers by not providing benefits.
Labor groups and activists moved earlier this year to challenge that ballot initiative, calling it unconstitutional.
“This unconstitutional law, which gig companies bought with hundreds of millions of dollars in political spending, is an affront to the fundamental protections and rights all workers deserve and should be expeditiously struck down by the courts,” the head of the California Labor Federation said in January.