There’s no question that the pandemic has presented everyone with countless challenges this year. For parents especially, trying to juggle virtual learning and child care with a job has been an unprecedented challenge of its own.
As a single mother, I am no stranger to these hardships. Between navigating the pandemic and taking care of my child, I consider myself fortunate to be able to lean on a job with DoorDash for a little extra support. Even though I have a full-time job, working for DoorDash gives me the flexibility to earn additional income without being tied down to a set number of hours.
However, a test within the federal bill called the PRO Act could take away that flexibility, making it much harder for workers like me to make a living on our own terms.
Under the ABC Test, many independent workers, from app-based workers like me, to freelance writers, to accountants, could be reclassified as employees instead of as independent contractors like we are today. That means we would eventually have to work a set, rigid schedule rather than choosing our own hours each day. The idea is to give more workers access to benefits like health care and retirement, but its actual execution would cause more problems than it solves.
For so many moms, balancing work and family is not an easy task. If our child is sick or needs us, it is stressful or sometimes not even possible to call out of work or find a last-minute babysitter. My flexible schedule with DoorDash, however, has alleviated a lot of that stress and given me much more peace of mind in knowing I can be there for my child whenever I need to be. If I were classified as an employee, I’d likely have to give up dashing and the financial security it affords me.
As women around the country have suffered enormous job losses due to Covid, these platforms have given them the opportunity to stay afloat. In fact, a recent article from CBS News pointed out that the number of women who are signing up for app-based platforms has surged due to the pandemic. As one of the 55% of women Dashers, I am proud to see that so many resilient women are recognizing the benefits of independent work. To pass the PRO Act with the ABC Test in it would take that away from so many people who need it.
It’s true that some workers don’t have access to benefits that some other full-time employees enjoy. I am lucky enough to receive benefits from my full-time job. But, as I think about everyone else on these platforms, especially the increase of recently unemployed women turning to driving during the pandemic, I can’t help but think that many others are not so fortunate. I think there should be a way to keep both the flexibility and autonomy that moms like me need but add access to benefits for those who don’t have them.
We need to create a modern system to give everyone a safety net of benefits while preserving flexibility. One way we can achieve this is through a portable benefits plan. Portable benefits plan is the idea of benefits sticking with workers whether they decide to work for one platform or multiple.
Thankfully, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly haven’t yet signed onto the PRO Act, but if they do consider it, I hope they’ll consider the consequences it would bring for workers as it’s currently written, particularly women who are already struggling in these tough times. Rather than passing the PRO Act with the ABC Test intact, I hope lawmakers consider modern solutions like removing the ABC Test or creating a better solution like a portable benefits option that can provide the certainty and security of benefits without taking away the flexibility we need.
Nicole Stansberry is a single mom who lives in Phoenix.