Independent Contractors vs Employees

Are independent contractors getting abused?

Do you understand the difference between an independent contractor vs employee and why the distinction matters? Read to find out!

Are independent contractors getting abused? Independent contractors vs employees

Are Independent Contractors Getting Abused?

It’s all over the news right now. The Biden administration recently released a proposal that could lead to millions of workers being classified as employees rather than independent contractors. This has been met with debate from both sides on what this could mean for workers in the future. For starters, are independent contractors getting abused? Well, that depends who you ask. Some of us might not even know which is part of the problem. So, how do we define the difference between an independent contractor vs employee? And why is that distinction so important?

This is an issue I have extremely strong opinions about for a few reasons. 1) I’ve studied the history going all the way back to the abuse of “independent contractors” working in the Triangle factory. 2) I have firsthand experience of being misclassified as an independent contractor for years at my last job. And 3) I now legitimately am working as an independent contractor and can also see the concerns related to implementation of CA’s AB 5 law and why that could cause people to fear something similar on the federal level.

What is the difference between an independent contractor vs employee?

Here are my thoughts. The term independent contractor has been ambiguously defined for years. While some self-employed freelancers are truly deserving of the title, the ambiguous definition has left room for employers to take advantage and workers to have little recourse. For instance, many workers in the Triangle were considered independent contractors, responsible for providing their own thread and paid for pieces completed rather than an hourly wage. They were exempt from worker’s compensation if they were injured on the job because they were not actual employees.

In more recent years this practice and abuse continues. My last job classified me as an independent contractor. However, I had no independent business or other clients, only them. They dictated my hours and pay. I was required to attend staff meetings, complete employee training and I was also required to work weekends and after hours for the “good of the company”. They also withheld nothing towards my taxes or Social Security. In addition to that, I got no maternity leave and was only able to take six weeks unpaid time off after the birth of my youngest, two of which she spent in the NICU.

During Covid budget cut time when the rest of the staff was required to take their PTO, I was also required to take an unpaid week off from work. To say, I grew frustrated by all this was an understatement.

The final icing on the cake came when I finally decided to leave. I wrote a goodbye email and provided my personal contact info to clients to remain in touch. The company came after me with a cease and desist order for supposed solicitation. I have to admit, as my anger faded, I actually laughed at this, because I think they had even forgotten at this point that I wasn’t considered one of their employees with a non-compete clause!

I could have probably retaliated and fought against them for misclassification etc, but I didn’t have the time, money or energy. And that is the problem. I was a little person at the behest of a Goliath.

As the reporting about the Biden proposal comes out it’s mostly focused on the gig economy, but what many Americans fail to realize is just how prevalent this problem is. There are MANY workers misclassified as independent contractors and in all different sectors of work.

As I work as a true freelance independent contractor now, I do understand the fears people have of having their freedom clipped. How too much legislation could make a potential client hesitate from legitimately hiring a freelancer for work if they might have to put them on their books.

But, I also think it’s time for the abuses with this label to end. We need clearly laid definitive questions that distinguish the difference between a freelancer with their own business working with other clients and an employee who just isn’t being put on the books. We need enforcement so companies cannot get away with misusing their power. And workers need protections, recourse and freedoms to choose HOW they want to work in today’s economy.

Yes, it is an amazing opportunity to truly be a self-employed individual who can set their own hours and work flexibly with clients they choose. But that needs to be the actual choice a worker is making. Not a classification without the freedoms and benefits to accompany. Employers can’t have it both ways and classify a worker as a freelancer, but not allow them to actually freelance or dictate the terms of their hours or pay.

For more information on this topic- check out some articles here!

For more articles on News and Society- check out the rest of Joyana’s Blog Page

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2022 Book Excellence Award Winner

2022 Book Excellence Award Winner

The Girl in the Triangle was named the 2022 Book Excellence Award Winner for Best Multicultural Fiction!

2022 Book Excellence Award Winner

The Book Excellence Awards is an international book awards competition.Chosen from thousands of applicants, The Girl in the Triangle was awarded the 2022 Book Excellence Award Winner for the Best in Multicultural Fiction category.

I’m honored to represent this category.

2022 Ben Franklin Award Winner

The Girl in the Triangle has been named the 2022 Ben Franklin Award Winner in the historical fiction category! Thank you IBPA for this amazing honor!

2022 Ben Franklin Award Winner

IBPA Ben Franklin Award

I am beyond honored and grateful to the IBPA for recognizing The Girl in the Triangle as the 2022 Ben Franklin Award Winner for historical fiction! This has really been a whirlwind of a roller coaster ride and a dream come true! Thank you to everyone supporting me along the way.

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award program, includes over fifty categories recognizing excellence in book editorial and design. They are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers.

The awards are administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), with help from over 160 book publishing professionals including librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors.

If you’re an author looking to navigate the self-publishing world- I highly recommend checking out the IBPA for all the amazing support they can offer!

For more information about self-publishing and why you should consider it, check out my blog and Author Coaching page!

The History of Unions in America

The History of Unions in America

What’s the story with unions?

The History of Unions in America

The History of Unions in America

Unions– love them, hate them– they’re an integral part of our labor history in America. And they’ve been in the news a lot recently. Between the fights with teacher unions and return to school plans last year to now Starbucks and Amazon locations voting to unionize– there are a lot of big feelings on this topic. But why is it so controversial?

Some Background History of Unions in America

The early forms of unions were craft guilds or mutual aid organizations working to protect workplace entry and conditions for skilled artisans. It didn’t raise too much resistance because these artisans were small in number as were the organizations who hired them. It wasn’t until industrialization that more of a gap between the workforce and employers came to be. Soon, workers began to see a threat emerging against both their wage and status.

The mid to late 1800s became a violent time in labor history. Unions utilized general strikes and rallied for standards like an eight-hour work day and livable wages. However, big businesses were heavily involved in government and local law enforcement as well as cohesive in supporting their own common interests. It was also socially accepted for employers to use brutal violence against striking workers. Therefore they succeeded in limiting the growth of trade unions and quashing most of their efforts at the time.

The turn of the century brought a new approach to union efforts. The American Federation of Labor was founded with the belief that individual unions were too fragmented to withstand the violence orchestrated against them. Instead, they recruited unions to band together under one large organization. Under AFL support, they were able to withstand the onslaught of retaliation from employers with unemployment pay and benefits.

The National Civic Federation (NFL) went one step further and brought leaders from both the trade unions and corporations together. Their explicit goal was diplomacy and with them the premise of collective bargaining was born.

Where the Controversy Comes In

On paper, unions appear to be entirely altruistic and no-brainers. However, as with everything in life– nothing is that simple. With larger organizations there are compromises in the name of the greater good at the expense of the individual. There are also politics that come into play.

Over the years, workers have rebelled against the idea of wages being garnished to support the union for what they felt was little return for their own individual benefits. Right to work laws came into play to support worker’s individual choice to opt out of union protection.

Some feel this has hampered unions and limited their protections and is why we have seen a downfall in their involvement and popularity in the last thirty years. We are a capitalist society that is run by the bottom-line. Both in our own households and in keeping a business running. But there are always two sides to every story.

When you’re arguing against an employer’s whim to fire or downsize without merit– you are also going to get an underperforming worker who is difficult to fire. You’re also going to get employers needing to make the difficult decision to raise prices for consumers to pay for a livable wage for their employee.

But on the other side, is it fair for a worker to be forced to choose between their safety, health or newborn infant and their paycheck? Or for an employer to mislabel a worker as an independent contractor to avoid paying benefits and taxes?

Just as the girls in the Triangle were fighting against the injustice railed against them– there are still many employees in this country with the deck stacked against them. Whatever the answer is– unionizing, legislation, or consumer support against corporations– we must be aware. The job is not done. Support is still needed– the fight for Worker’s Rights is far from over.

Read Joyana’s other posts on history, books and words here!

The History of the Dictionary

The History of the Dictionary

How did the dictionary come to be?

The History of the Dictionary

The History of the Dictionary

We’ve all heard the phrase look it up in the dictionary. But how did it actually come to be? What is the history of the dictionary?

On April 15th 1747, Samuel Johnson published an English dictionary at over 43,500 words.

It wasn’t the first dictionary ever published, but it was by far the most comprehensive English language dictionary of its time. It was also the first that ever published etymologies and various meanings for words.

It took Johnson and and several part time copyists eight years to compile the definitions. Although comprehensive, it had many biases and limitations, most being that Johnson had some quirky ideas about standards for word inclusion.

There have been other dictionaries that have been published since Johnson’s edition– the most famous being Webster’s and the Oxford editions. Both of which were even more comprehensive in their development. However, were they any more objective?

I recently read an interesting book called The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. It really heightened my understanding and awareness of the bias in the English language. Williams went into great detail to discuss the differences in word choices and meanings for class and gender. 

I feel this is something we still see today. Even with creations of “urban” dictionaries, there are still varying forms of slang, cultural, racial, regional, and even ageist bias in the use of the English language. 

Not to mention, with technology and social media- new words, phrases, memes and meanings are created at the speed of light.  Think of the new context behind the use of the name “Karen” or phrase “Let’s go Brandon.”

Is there any wonder that people will forever be lost in understanding the true implications of conversational English? 

Language is tricky, so much can be lost in translation, and understanding. However, there is also a beauty in its complexity. Could language ever be truly objective? Would we even want it to be?

 Much like a woman, words will always contain more than immediately meets the eye. You have to dig deeper to understand the true context and layers in its meaning. 

Maybe that’s the problem so far- these dictionaries have all been compiled by men… 😉

Check out Joyana’s other blog posts on words, history, and books here!

The Magic of Wordle

The Magic of Wordle

Why has this game swept the world so quickly?

The Magic of Wordle

Did you get today’s Wordle?

If you haven’t joined the Wordle bandwagon yet, you’re missing out! The game is spreading like a wildfire, gaining in popularity each day.  

So, what is it, and what’s the appeal? What is the magic of wordle?

Wordle was created by a software engineer in Brooklyn for his partner during the pandemic. First, it was just a private word guessing game the two of them played, but then they added it to a family What’s App group and before long it was shared with friends etc. After seeing the widespread appeal, they decided to release it to the world last October. 

Wordle is probably one of the simplest interface and concepts imaginable. It is literally just a five letter guessing game with six chances to guess the word of the day. Guess a letter correct and it changes color depending on placement and inclusion in the word. 

So, what makes Wordle so special vs other word games out there? Many would say it’s the shared community. Others say it’s the one word answer per day. It literally takes three minutes of your time and then you move on with your day. You can even stoke that competitive spirit by sharing your results on your social media feed with a widget blurring out the letters to prevent spoilers.

There’s also the user friendly approachability to the game. Anyone old or young can play. There’s nothing to download, just type it in online and it pops right up. I’ve played and compared letters with my seven-year-old son, my in-laws, strangers in line for coffee, and eighth grade students while subbing. 

That’s it, five minutes of using your brain to guess letters and you  share a secret with the world.

So, if you haven’t yet,  join the fun- and try the magic of Wordle

Do you really like word games and want to continue the fun after the five minutes? Here’s a few others to try:

FreeRice.com– Practice your vocabulary, grammar and trivia skills, all while donating rice/food to the World Food Programme!

Spelling Bee-  How many words can you make with seven letters?

Enjoy and happy word games!

Check out Joyana’s blog posts on words, books and life here!