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On-demand workers may become protected under law

Starting in 2016, New Jersey companies who hire independent contractors may begin to treat them as traditional employees. With apps and internet-based companies becoming more prominent, a flexible and cheap labor force has become available. However, these workers are often not provided certain benefits such as workers' compensation and social security.

Two lawsuits have been filed in California against several on-demand companies, including Uber and Lyft. Lawmakers in the city of Seattle have voted to legally allow drivers working for these companies to organize. California is also following Seattle's lead but the legislation would potentially allow all on-demand workers to organize regardless of their job title. It is expected that employers will challenge the laws which could mean that the laws would not take effect for some time.

Regardless, the efforts are seen as a positive step forward. As more cities take action, more on-demand companies are expected to change their policies and extent the protections to their independent workers as this may outweigh the costs of those protections. In fact, protections for those who are employed as independent contractors is being brought to attention in the 2016 election.

Most traditional New Jersey companies are required to provide certain protections for their employees. Workers' compensation, for example, covers the cost of any injuries that the worker may suffer while they are on the clock. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are responsible for paying their own insurance and medical costs should they become injured while working. If the laws change, the companies that hire them would have to extend workers' compensation benefits to these employees. If this becomes the case and the worker does suffer a serious injury that requires time off and medical treatment, an attorney may help the worker seek compensation.

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