Gig Workforce and Portable Benefits

On May 25, 2017, Senator Warner (D-VA) and Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA) introduced H. 1251 and H.R. 2685, Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act. It calls for $20 million of grant dollars for states to study and pursue innovative ways to provide portable benefits to “the growing independent workforce.”

Per Senator Warner: “Whether by choice or necessity, a growing number of Americans are working without a safety net and have difficulty planning and saving for retirement, health care needs, or on-the-job injuries. The nature of work is changing rapidly, but our policies largely remain tied to a 20th century model of traditional full-time employment.” “As more and more Americans engage in part-time, contract or other alternative work arrangements, it’s increasingly important that we provide them with an ability to access more flexible, portable benefits that they can carry with them to multiple jobs across a day, a year, and even a career. These incentive grants will accelerate experimentation at the state and local levels to better support a more independent 21st century workforce.”

This is a good idea, but puzzling as to why they don’t address this at the federal level given the number of provisions regarding workers that exist at the federal level. For example, only employees get unemployment benefits, not contractors. Retirement plans differ for employees versus contractors. Why not modify these rules to address the fact that even if someone is an employee rather than a contractor, they will have numerous employers over their careers. They all need portable benefits.

Why aren’t federal tax reform discussions also focused on trends and modernization of our tax system?

What do you think?



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