California state legislators embarked last week on the single most important regulatory misadventure this country has seen in many decades, seeking to redefine the obscure but critical legal distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. The employment relationship today is subject to massive regulation that is inapplicable to the independent contractor, who pretty much works on his or her own.
Like it or not, the employee receives many statutory protections, including the right to receive minimum wages and overtime, to join a union, to receive worker’s compensation benefits and unemployment insurance, and to receive paid family and sick leave. None of that mandated protection comes without significant costs. It has been estimated that reclassification of Uber and Lyft drivers as employees in California alone will cost the two companies an average of $3,625 per driver per year for a combined annual bill of nearly $800 million per year. Nonetheless, in 2018, the California Supreme Court in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court forged ahead with such a reform by unanimously holding that drivers who worked for a firm that supplied nationwide courier and delivery services should be classified by law as employees and not as independent contractors.More