October 15, 2022 / Building Bridges
Reimagining paid leave for the self employed
What might a truly great paid leave program look like for the self-employed? And, if we can get paid leave working for independent contractors, how might that become the model for delivering other types of safety net protections?
The question of making paid leave work for the self-employed is a little more complicated than it might seem. Just look at the differences between the 12 states and municipalities that already have paid leave programs, and you start to realize that there are many different answers, and unfortunately, very few policy makers have considered the question at all.
Some states require independent workers to pay twice what traditional employees pay into the system, while others have multi-year waiting periods between enrollment and the ability to use the benefit. Across the board, very few governments invest in getting the word out to independent workers, so take up is usually dismal, regardless of program design.
When it comes to the self-employed, policy makers seem stuck on trying to retrofit program designs that work for employees, rather than designing something based on the needs, challenges, and specific ways non-traditional workers earn income, especially those operating at the margins, like informal workers, street vendors, and undocumented workers, among others.
That’s why, on October 3rd, 2022, we co-hosted a convening, entitled Paid Leave for the Self-Employed, alongside the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Freelancers Union. The hybrid event, held in-person at the CAP offices in Washington DC, as well as virtually, brought together representatives of the independent workforce alongside policy experts and advocates working on the issue of paid family and medical leave.
The goal of the event was to imagine what a truly great paid leave benefit for the self-employed might look like, and chart the beginnings of a path to advance that vision. The event laid the groundwork for future relationships and alliances among participants (many of whom had never met before), while simultaneously bringing both worker advocates and paid leave policy experts into a deep discussion about the opportunities and challenges of imagining a system that actually works for the most excluded workers.
Going forward, we’ll be publishing the outcomes of the discussion, as well as working with participants to advocate for more inclusive paid leave policies at the state and federal levels.
Drew Ambrogi, Coworker.org
Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
Jennelyn Bailon, Center for Cultural Innovation
Chanda Causer, Main Street Alliance
Althea Erickson, Center for Cultural Innovation
Rafael Espinal, Freelancers Union
Aurelia Glass, Center for American Progress
Cassandra Gomez, A Better Balance
Pronita Gupta, Workshop
Adrian Haro, Workers Lab
Josie Kalipeni, Family Values at Work
Angie Kim, Center for Cultural Innovation
Namatie Manseray, MomsRising
Nathaniel Marro, Music Workers Alliance
Jake McDonald, National Partnership for Women & Families
Sapna Mehta, Center for Law and Social Policy
Hope Mohr, Guilded
Mary Rasenberger, Authors Guild
Vasu Reddy, National Partnership for Women & Families Bela Salas-Betsch, Center for American Progress
Vicki Shabo, New America Foundation
Meredith Shaffer, Public Private Strategies
Naomi Smith, Main Street Alliance
Shelly Steward, Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative
Meredith Tannor, Freelancers Union
Molly Weston Williamson, Center for American Progress
Haeyoung Yoon, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Jeffrey Zubricki, Etsy