NJ will not change independent contractor laws — for now (Analysis)
As the two-year legislative session comes to and end at noon next Tuesday, several pieces of legislation that had been prioritized by the Democratic majority in the Assembly and Senate will likely fall to the wayside.
A statewide ban on flavored vaping products is unlikely to receive final votes and a ban on menthol cigarettes will not even be posted for a vote. The bill eliminating religious exemptions for mandatory school vaccinations still faces an uncertain future, with Senate President Steve Sweeney admitting he has not convinced enough of his caucus members to support it.
However, one the biggest defeats for Sweeney is the failure of a bill that would have changed the definition of independent contractors in New Jersey, with the aim of keeping workers in the "gig" economy from being exploited. There was fear everything and everyone from law offices to newspapers to wedding photographers to musicians could have been devastated by new rules that opponents say could have cost tens of thousands their jobs.
Hours-long hearings in the legislature raised more questions than produced answers. State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) called it one of the most confusing pieces of legislation she seen in her 20-years as a legislator.
At the urging of labor groups, Sweeney pushed this measure to try and eliminate loopholes some companies exploit by classifying workers as “independent contractors” and paying them less than full-time employees. However, the unintended consequences of the bill scared many lawmakers away from it.
A senior senate staffer confirms there will be no vote on the bill before the legislative session ends. Sweeney told NJ.com he is not giving up, though, and will bring it back in the new legislative session. However, without significant changes that offer protections for legitimate independent workers, it’s unlikely there would be enough democratic support to pass it.
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