Ballot initiative that would “uberize” California healthcare workers, taking away rights and protections they enjoy as employees, is withdrawn

On January 24, 2022, the law firm behind Proposition 22 submitted a new ballot initiative to the California State Attorney General which aimed to uberize healthcare workers. As a reminder, Proposition 22 was the $200 million-plus initiative from 2020 funded by Uber Technologies Inc., DoorDash Inc., Lyft Inc. and Instacart to permit those companies to bypass California law so they could classify their drivers as independent contractors, instead of employees.

The new initiative targeted at healthcare workers, which has since been withdrawn, sought to classify nurses, dental hygienists, occupational therapists, and other similar professionals, who use a digital platform to secure work as independent contractors instead of employees.

Specifically, the initiative sought to classify certain healthcare workers as independent contractors if the work arrangement met certain parameters, including but not limited to: (1) the platform does not prescribe specific hours or days of the week during which the worker is required to be available to accept service requests; (2) the worker is free to accept or reject service requests without being penalized by the platform; and (3) the worker has the right to terminate the agreement with the platform at any time with or without cause.

The group behind the ballot initiative calls itself “Californians for Equitable Healthcare Access.” Yet their initiative was neither equitable nor would it make healthcare more accessible. Using recycled arguments made in favor of Proposition 22, the proponents claimed that their initiative would provide for greater flexibility to healthcare workers. In reality, their initiative, much like Proposition 22, would do nothing more than strip healthcare workers of much needed labor protections and benefits under the guise of flexibility. The façade of flexibility would have come at a hefty price to healthcare workers and made it a lot easier for healthcare employers to cut labor costs at workers’ expense. Healthcare workers would have been left without benefits, paying for their own malpractice insurance, and managing tax contributions and retirement funds. If we’ve learned anything over the last couple of years, we’ve learned that healthcare workers need more job protections, not less.

While the initiative has been withdrawn, we do not believe this concept is gone for good, only gone for now. We will keep you updated if there are any new developments with this situation. For questions regarding employee and independent contractor status, contact your labor counsel.

By Bisma Shahbaz | April 13, 2022

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