Colorado’s representatives in Congress should be commended for efforts to lift up workers and families affected by the COVID pandemic. That said, there are some proposals being discussed in Congress that should never see the light of day. This list includes a “discussion draft” from the Senate Finance Committee that would reform unemployment insurance nationwide.
The reform proposal relies heavily on a requirement that all states, including Colorado, adopt California’s strict ABC worker classification test for unemployment eligibility. The test has been a disaster in California and is the last thing we need in Colorado.
The strict ABC test requires businesses to reclassify most independent contractors as employees. California lawmakers enacted the test thinking it would make more workers eligible for benefits. Instead, the test resulted in thousands of contractors losing work.
Skilled professionals like translators, interpreters and journalists saw their contracts canceled as businesses responded to higher costs by eliminating contractor positions. Two years after California lawmakers enacted the test, they are still trying to fix their mess by issuing dozens of industry exemptions. Notably, the draft in Congress makes no mention of similar exemptions. As a result, the damage it does could be even worse.
The last thing Colorado needs is Congress strong-arming it into adopting California’s flawed labor law. That heavy-handed approach to expanding unemployment insurance will just result in more Coloradans being out of work.