Advancing Workers’ Rights in Contract Employment

Major corporations are changing the structure of their relationships with workers through subcontracting, temp and staffing, and calling workers “franchisees” or “independent contractors.”

Fifteen and a half million workers – 1 in 10 – find themselves in these work arrangements, which erode labor standards, increase income and wealth inequality, exacerbate structural racism and occupational segregation, and shift power away from working people.

NELP exposes the strategies employers use to evade labor laws and worker benefits in contract employment and to advance policies that ensure that all workers have access to good jobs with good benefits, regardless of how their job is structured.

Policy Options to Stop Low-Road Outsourcing

NELP works with partners and government agencies on policies that help to reduce the misuse of business outsourcing to improve labor standards and build worker power and workers’ organizations in contracted work.

Visit this resource page to learn more about NELP’s work to build accountability in contracted work through research, campaign, and legal support.

Stopping Independent Contractor Misclassification

By labeling – and often mislabeling their employees as independent contractors, freelancers or 1099s, businesses pass costs like health insurance, tools, insurance, payroll taxes and the cost of compliance with core labor standards onto workers.

Businesses that cheat can shift up to 30% of their labor costs onto law-abiding employers, taxpayers and workers who are not truly running their own business, as their tax status suggests.

Unchecked, independent contractor misclassification – also called “payroll fraud” —  can cause long-term damage to the economy and to labor standards across the board, but there are solutions.

Learn more about policy options and solutions for workers treated as independent contractors.

Restoring Accountability for Temp Work

The rise of temp and staffing work is a key part of a larger story about how corporations, starting in the latter half of the twenty-first century, largely abandoned their bargain with workers—a bargain Black, Latino, and other workers were largely left out of the first place, it is important to note—by hyper-fixating on profits at the expense of basic workplace standards.

Today, the competition between staffing agencies to undercut rivals’ bids places downward pressure on wages and working conditions across a wide variety of industries. Increasingly, Black and Latino workers are shunted into low-wage, dead-end staffing jobs where there is pervasive discrimination and health and safety violations.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can restore employer accountability.

Companies can succeed by treating workers fairly and honoring their responsibilities as employers. Together, we can ensure that jobs in the “contract economy” are good jobs.

Learn more about NELP’s work to build accountability in temp and staffing work through research, campaign, and legal support.

Uber & Lyft: Running Over Local Democracy

New technologies can improve our lives. But all companies have a responsibility to the communities they serve and to the workers who make their success possible.

Over the past five years, app-based companies like Uber and Lyft have been able to rewrite the laws in 41 states to benefit themselves—and undermine protections for workers and consumers in the process.
The speed and sweeping effectiveness of the industry’s use of this strategy, known as state interference (or preemption), is unprecedented—and other companies are replicating Uber and Lyft’s model as new technologies arise.

The way we address these corporate strategies could have major effects on the future of both our workplaces and our democracy.

Visit this page to learn more about how many companies in the app-based economy are overriding laws and what we can do to prevent it.

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