Comment: Worker misclassification is a growing problem as the gig economy comes to healthcare

A caregiver with an elderly man in a wheelchair. Image by Photo via Pixabay

The growth of the gig economy has transformed the modern workforce. Uber and Lyft are just the beginning. Now, with the help of app technology, businesses increasingly rely on temporary workers, freelancers and independent contractors.

While this model brings flexibility, it also raises the alarming tendency of labor misclassification. This misclassification can have profound implications for individuals, businesses and wider society. This is especially true in our healthcare industry, where venture capitalists have seized a significant opportunity to address critical labor shortages by creating new healthcare startups.

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This new gig economy allows healthcare workers to upload their certifications, educational information and areas of expertise. This can then be matched to the specific staffing needs of healthcare facilities. Acting like a corporate version of Tinder for employment, healthcare workers browse available transitions and swipe for matches. This process is quick and easy.

But for businesses and workers, it can quickly become complicated; There may be significant tax or legal implications if workers are not accurately classified.

Healthcare is a complex field that requires workers to operate under strict protocols. These professionals juggle patient schedules, protect sensitive information and ensure compliance with facility rules. It’s a delicate balance that clashes with the „be your own boss” narrative that’s so appealing to independent contractors.

At the tip of the spear, businesses like Uber and Lyft are often cited as examples of the challenges of the gig economy. Many have faced legal battles over allegations that workers were misclassified. The recent Proposition 22 ruling in California underscores this issue. This is especially true for the health sector.

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Amid the changing demographic landscape, the demand for healthcare is rising. By 2030, the 65+ age group is expected to grow from 6 million to 8.4 million in California alone. This trend will coincide with a supply of workers who cannot continue to work, resulting in an even worse labor shortage.

In this growing scenario, healthcare stopping apps have the potential to play a vital role. Some utility staffing companies employ these workers as W-2 employees, while others classify them as independent contractors. Surprisingly, the US Department of Labor And the judiciary is taking note.

In response to these concerns, the Department of Labor has embarked on a „nationwide effort by its Wage and Hour Division to focus on improving compliance in residential care, medical facilities and home health services.”

Dept reported Since launching the program in 2021, it has completed more than 1,600 investigations and identified violations in 80 percent of its reviews. More than $28.6 million in back wages and compensation has been recovered for nearly 25,000 workers. As a result, employers have been awarded civil monetary penalties of approximately $1.3 million. The most common violation? Classification of employees as independent contractors.

In California, Attorney General Rob Bonda Recently „A care specialist in Los Angeles Superior filed suit against HCS, alleging that the company and its operators classified home care workers as independent contractors instead of employees, in direct violation of California’s labor laws and unfair competition law.”

Last year, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office A fine was imposed Home health placement agency $1.8 million for misclassifying 66 workers. That too Sued CareRev, a healthcare app-based staffing agency, to classify workers signed into the app as independent contractors.

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While technology offers undeniable capabilities, it comes with significant responsibilities and costs. In harnessing the benefits of the gig economy, the health sector must be mindful of the broader implications of labor misclassification. As a human resources professional, I can attest to the importance of balancing technological advances and legal considerations in our workforce.

Amy Dellinger works as a human resources specialist in California.

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