Biden's new rule on independent contractors wages war on workers, women and entrepreneurs

With its recent rule restricting the classification of independent contractors, the Biden administration has made it clear: It wants to wage war on workers – and is willing for women to be the collateral damage.

The rule, which redefines who can be classified as an independent contractor, was put forward by the administration in what it claimed was an additional layer of protection for workers. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is particularly disheartening to see this action carried out by Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, a woman who undoubtedly understands that this rule will have a disproportionate impact on women.

In the past year alone, 64 million Americans freelanced, half of whom were women. Women choose independent contractor status because of the flexibility it affords them, a particularly important factor for those raising children or aiding in caring for parents or other family members. Ninety-two percent of female workers prioritize flexibility over stability when it comes to their careers.

Flexibility in the workplace is no longer a commodity, it is a necessity.

Women aren't showing up to vote. It could lead to disaster in 2024 election.

Why Biden's rule will only stifle business growth

This fact is clear not only for women, but for the broader labor force as a whole. Take a quick read through your LinkedIn feed or skim the headlines of major news outlets and you’re likely to be faced with reports on disengaged employees costing U.S. firms billions of dollars in losses ($1.9 trillion, to be exact, according to new Gallup research) and how return-to-office mandates are causing a mass exodus of workers (specifically, working mothers).

Workers have barely overcome sporadic government COVID-19 shutdowns that impacted business and wage growth and are now dealing with the ramifications of crippling inflation and an uncertain economic outlook. It’s a time to boost opportunities for work and business growth, not stifle it – which is precisely what the new rule will do.

It’s easy for the Biden administration to hide its motives behind the guise of protecting workers from the “big bad tech industry.” It’s more difficult to get the American public on board with a rule that would target small business owners and entrepreneurs across sectors, including health care, construction, restaurants and hospitality, among others.

Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su speaks during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for her to be Deputy Secretary of Labor, on Capitol Hill, March 16, 2021.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su speaks during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for her to be Deputy Secretary of Labor, on Capitol Hill, March 16, 2021.

Which is why acting Secretary Su isn’t talking about those small businesses, instead choosing to rely on catch phrases like the “gig economy” that make viewers conjure images of massive corporations.

But make no mistake: This rule will not just upend the gig economy – it will contribute to the upending of the economy as a whole.

Women entrepreneurs like me will be hit hardest

It will directly affect the livelihoods of entrepreneurs like myself who have built companies that both rely on and offer flexibility and competitive fees to independent contractors.

Biden adds to his 'Bidenomics' flop. This new rule throws wrench in popular gig economy.

My woman-owned business, FLEX Partners, was specifically designed to curate strong networks of skill-specific consultants who work with us as independent contractors to meet the very unique needs of our clients. But this contractor model also allows us to partner with the best of the best (notably, the majority of whom are women and mothers) on schedules and fee structures dictated by themselves.

These are not workers who are hurt by their label as independent contractors – they are workers who are empowered and thriving because of it.

Opinion alerts: Get columns from your favorite columnists + expert analysis on top issues, delivered straight to your device through the USA TODAY app. Don't have the app? Download it for free from your app store.

Under this rule, my ability as a business owner to partner with these talented individuals would be severely impeded – impacting not only the growth and success of my business, and thus, my own livelihood, but also that of the consultants with whom I partner.

These are people simply trying to engage in meaningful work while they provide for themselves and their families, a basic tenant of our American society. And now the Biden administration wants to punish them – and those who seek to hire them.

Whitney Munro
Whitney Munro

Whitney Munro is the founder, president and CEO of FLEX Partners, a national consulting firm that employs a largely female workforce of employees and independent contractors. She is also a senior adviser for Independent Women’s Forum.

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden rule on gig workers, independent contractors hurts women