Act Now: Urge Seattle City Council to conduct more employer outreach before passing new rules for contract work

By: Editorial Staff Posted: 06/07/2021

Current bill creates substantial requirements for small businesses and could harm independent contractors in Seattle

Join us in telling the Seattle City Council that Council Bill 120069, regarding independent contractors, is too broad and we need more outreach before rushing to pass the legislation.

Last Friday, June 4, Seattle City Council’s Finance and Housing Committee advanced legislation impacting independent contractors, CB 120069. The bill creates new disclosure and documentation requirements for any business hiring an independent contractor as well as for app-based workers.

While the legislation has been discussed as an opportunity to increase protections for vulnerable workers by providing additional disclosures, the legislation is written so broadly that it will impact more workers, and more businesses, than intended.

ISSUES WITH THE BILL

As the bill is written today, the new disclosure and documentation requirements, which include detailing the scope of work and cost of a job, would now fall on any company who hires an independent contractor for work, such as:

  • Independent tradespeople, like electricians or plumbers
  • Business consultants
  • An independent web coder

Many voices including the Seattle Metro Chamber weighed in, advising Council to slow down its consideration of the complex legislation, to do the necessary stakeholder outreach, and to address  harmful consequences the bill could create – including making sole proprietorships in Seattle less competitive than larger companies for contract work. As a regional organization representing the broad business community, we strongly urge the Council not to put their thumb on the scale this way.

For example, if a small, independent coffeeshop is trying to get some electrical repairs made to an espresso machine, the coffeeshop will now be subject to significantly more disclosure requirements and obligations to hire an independent electrician instead of hiring a company with multiple employees for the electrical work.

This legislation could also be harmful to independent contractors who live and work in Seattle. If a business in Florida is hiring an independent contractor to do some web coding, the business will face significantly more disclosure requirements and obligations to hire a Seattle-based coder instead of a Bellevue-based coder.

IMPROVING THIS LEGISLATION

Recognizing that this legislation was sweeping and affected many industries, the committee passed an amended version exempting hair stylists and giving Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) the ability to determine that certain independent contractors are exempt because they have adequate bargaining power.

City Council has acknowledged that there are other challenging nuances that should be addressed. We urge them to address those nuances now, during the policymaking process, rather than leaving them open to interpretation for the rulemaking process.

City Council is considering the legislation for final passage on Monday, June 14. We urge you to share feedback with all councilmembers by emailing council@seattle.gov and telling Council to slow down CB 120069 and do the appropriate outreach to businesses.