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Freelancers Are Getting Pulled Into Worker Misclassification Fights

Freelancers Are Getting Pulled Into Worker Misclassification Fights
Photograph by Curi Hyvrard/Corbis

America’s 17.7 million independent workers will earn about $1.2 trillion this year, according to a study published last month by MBO Partners. Employers will tell you the rising freelance economy is good for workers, who get to set their own hours and work in their pajamas. Regulators say misclassifying employees as contractors robs governments of crucial tax revenues and exploits workers, depriving them of health care and other benefits.

Both sides are right. There are plenty of workers who like being independent—and genuinely are as defined by state and federal law. Typically, that means they own their own businesses, work for different customers, and set their own hours, according a Bloomberg story last week by Jim Efstathiou Jr. on mislabeled contractors.