And given the uncertainties about the future, many companies need cost-effective ways to fulfill their business needs. Freelancers’ flexibility and skillsets make them well-equipped to meet that demand.
Consider a small business trying to expand their online presence. It doesn’t make sense for a bookstore or restaurant to pay someone full-time to put together a single website. Most small firms don’t need a full-fledged marketing department either — but they do need help regaining customers after months of closures and lockdowns. Freelancers can step in and provide those services.
Our country’s economic revival is linked to the success of these workers. It’s time for lawmakers to acknowledge freelancers’ value by including them in safety net programs.
They can start by making unemployment benefits for freelance workers permanent. Congress temporarily extended these benefits to freelancers through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which will expire at the end of the year. Ensuring access to these benefits long after COVID-19 abates would make the new freelance economy less precarious.
An economy supported by independent workers also requires reforms to the nation’s healthcare system.
One way to provide more — and better — insurance options for independent workers is by shoring up the Affordable Care Act, which made it easier for freelancers to get coverage through online insurance exchanges. The law isn’t perfect. But there’s no reason that Republicans and Democrats shouldn’t be able to work together to make the exchanges work better.