Portable benefits are benefits that are not tied to any particular job or company. While “traditionally, benefits are attached to a specific job, this does not match the reality of work for many in today’s economy, who may derive their income from multiple sources simultaneously or who may regularly switch jobs or employers”(1).  In other words, portable benefits match the needs of indy workers in the gig economy.

In May of this year, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation that would create a $20 million fund from which the Department of Labor could provide grants to pilot programs to experiment with ways to provide portable benefits to indy workers. Local and state governments, as well as non-profit organizations such as unions, would be eligible to apply for the grants.

Called the “Portable Benefits Pilot Program Act (PBPPA),” the legislation has made its appearance in the midst of a chaotic, and anything but bipartisan atmosphere in our nation’s capitol. While indy workers have overwhelmingly benefited from the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with its provisions for more affordable health insurance through state exchanges rather than a single, full-time employer, the current administration has repeatedly sought the ACA’s repeal.

That’s why it is rather remarkable, and even news worthy, that this week a Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor of the PBPPA. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) decided to become a co-sponsor, as he told Bloomberg BNA, because he feels it’s time for Congress to “embrace the emerging gig economy as a way to generate upward mobility for Americans.”

Given that the gig economy continues to grow each year, Senator Young recognizes that now is the moment to push through to solutions for the challenges presented by new work structures, and, as he states, the PBPPA “starts that conversation and launches a pilot program that just might lead to a solution that benefits millions of Americans over time.”

The hope, of course, is that more and more members of Congress will sign onto the PBPPA, and this show of bipartisanship in such a fractured moment is a good sign. The fact that a Democrat and a Republican can agree on something related to benefits for workers reveals the urgency of the need.

Has your Senator gotten on board yet?

Find their contact information here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s