By every measure, independent workers in the U.S. should be able to carry serious political clout and drive meaningful change. More than one-third of American workers earn income as consultants, freelancers, independents, or self-employed professionals, and 3 out of 4 do so by choice, not necessity.
So why do policies consistently overlook—or show overt bias toward—a workforce that’s 68 million strong?
Because scattered across every profession, income level, industry, party, race, religion, gender, and geography, independent workers lack a unified voice to get Washington’s attention.
As a result, our national policies show clear bias toward traditional “full-time jobs”, and the self-employed face numerous barriers to self-sufficiency. They receive no worker’s compensation if they are injured on the job. No income continuation if a long-term project ends without notice. No access to employer-supplemented retirement programs. No bundled benefit options that reflect real purchasing power. The list of injustices goes on: reduced access to credit, the risk of not being paid for work that is already performed, and complex tax filing, licensing, and regulatory compliance requirements that seem neverending.
With the help of our members and partners, IPSE-US will create and amplify a unified voice for independent workers. We will leverage their numbers to advocate for policy reform that reflects the modern and mobile world of work. We will work with both sides of the aisle to find solutions and forge policies that remove barriers and end unjust treatment of independent workers, empowering them to protect their families and their finances while unleashing the full potential of their contribution to the U.S. economy.
Changes won’t come quickly or easily, but our three policy pillars are already taking shape. Here’s what we’re asking from the federal government:
- Add a dedicated focus on independent workers. Current labor policies were designed 75 years ago around traditional employment models, and ignore nearly 40% of the modern workforce. Though “gig worker” lawsuits make headline news, the federal government’s time and attention is still focused almost exclusively on “jobs.” To balance this equation, we propose an undersecretary of independent work at the Department of Labor: a post focused solely on understanding and representing the unique interests of the self-employed.
- Provide fair and equitable tax treatment. Lacking policy advocates to champion their workstyle, independent workers are subject to taxation without representation. Even those who have chosen self-employment as a full-time career face ongoing attempts and “tests” to re-classify them as W-2 employees. Though the U.S. tax code is famously complex, the self-employed face additional intricacies and burdens—and accountants can’t yet assure them whether the new tax act is a boon or bust for their solo businesses. Independent workers should be free to work as they choose without undue tax burdens or fear of misclassification.
- Remove barriers to fair and equitable benefit structures. Both the employer-based model and the individual mandate for health insurance have proven deeply flawed, and neither is likely to move beyond political gridlock anytime soon. We believe the free market can reach faster, better solutions to affordable, portable health care and benefits for the self-employed. We’re asking policymakers to remove roadblocks and amend current policy to allow innovative solutions to emerge in the free market, and to deliver the protection that independent workers deserve.