In the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, many employers said they would begin covering travel costs for workers who need abortions and live in states with restrictions. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Corey Bush (D-Mo.) say a large portion of the workforce would be excluded from these benefits: workers classified as “independent contractors.”
The two lawmakers wrote to the Labor Department on Thursday urging the agency to pursue the proposed action on misclassification of employees. They said it was necessary to do so because their offices believe many companies will not include contractors when it comes to abortion travel reimbursement.
Warren and Bush said that five companies in particular — Amazon, Uber, Lyft, Grubhub and DoorDash — provided them with “generally inadequate” answers when asked whether their contract workforce would be covered. “But all five affirmed, explicitly or implicitly, that independent contractors would be excluded from travel reimbursement for abortion care benefits,” they wrote. His full letter, which was co-signed by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), can be read below.
“This disparity will have particular implications for already marginalized communities.”
– Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) and Representative Corey Bush (D)
Lawmakers said the situation directly reflected the “disparity” between white-collar workers directly employed by companies and their independent contractors who technically work for themselves. Contractors are often not covered by a company’s employee health care plan, which appears to be the primary means for abortion-related travel reimbursement.
“These responses confirm that while highly-paid corporate executives from companies will Take advantage of this right to your independent contractors, who lack both salary stability and And there will be no minimum wage security,” he said.
Prior to Dobbs’ ruling, many workers received abortion benefits through their health plans, whether they realized it or not. As HuffPost reported last year, the expansion of such benefits in recent months appears mostly limited to “a small, select group of workers in America,” primarily white-collar ones. (However, there are notable exceptions, such as Starbucks, which said baristas on its health plan would be eligible for travel reimbursement.)
Although many contractors do in fact work independently, for years employers have labeled workers as “independent contractors” to avoid the traditional costs of employment, such as providing workplace benefits and workers’ compensation related to injuries. to pay. In the case of gig platforms like Uber and Lyft, contractors also bear significant equipment costs in the form of cars and gas.
Labor Department introduced a new regulation In October it will limit the circumstances under which an employer can put an employee in the contractor bucket. If the rule goes into effect, many employers would be forced to reclassify their contractors and employees and begin covering the associated costs.
In their letter, Warren and Bush said Amazon and Uber have made it clear to their offices that only direct employees will be eligible for travel reimbursement. While Lyft, Grubhub and DoorDash didn’t “explicitly” say so, the lawmakers said, those companies said only people enrolled in corporate health plans would be covered.
“This disparity will have particular implications for already disadvantaged communities,” he wrote. “More and more women have joined the gig workforce in recent years, and women of color face even greater barriers to accessing abortion and related care.”
He urged the Labor Department to implement “the strongest rules possible” so that more contractors can be reclassified as employees.
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