Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed several bills into law on Saturday, November 21, 2015. However, one piece of legislation that did not make it past his desk was a measure that would have created a special test under which newspaper carriers could more easily be classified as independent contractors as opposed to employees for purposes of New York’s unemployment, minimum wage and workers’ compensation laws. Assembly Bill 7753 was passed by the state Senate on June 24, 2015 with 42 votes. The Bill was sponsored by Democrat Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle and had strong bipartisan support.
Newspapers and similar publishers have a long history of contracting with independent contractors to provide delivery services. In 2000, the New York State Department of Labor recognized the need to provide a standard by which these common contractual relationships could operate without creating an employment relationship, and published “Guidelines for Determining Worker Status: Newspaper and Shopping Guide Publishing Industry.” However, these Guidelines have not been consistently applied and Bill 7753 was an attempt to codify a “common sense test” by which newspapers, delivery persons and agency staff could easily determine an individual’s employment status.
In vetoing the Bill, Governor Cuomo stated that he has “strived to decrease misclassifications, increase compliance, and ensure that workers secure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work with all of the appropriate protections available under the law.” He concluded that “[t]his bill would not advance these goals” because it would “exclude certain workers from the basic protections afforded under unemployment insurance, minimum wage, and workers’ compensation laws.”