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Legislation aims to make benefits more accessible to contingent workers

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The program intends to enhance accessibility to various benefits

A new piece of legislation has been introduced by bipartisan US senators, aiming to simplify the process for independent workers, including independent contractors and temporary workers, to receive essential benefits like healthcare and life insurance. The proposed act, known as the “Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act,” intends to enhance accessibility to various benefits, such as retirement savings, workers’ compensation, disability insurance, sick leave, and training. It also includes provisions for allocating $20 million in grants to states, supporting innovative portable benefits programs.

The lawmakers behind the bill, including US Sen. Mark Warner from Virginia, emphasize the need to adapt to the evolving nature of the American workforce. With an increasing number of individuals engaging in part-time, contract, or other non-traditional work arrangements, the current retirement and savings programs are insufficient in meeting the needs of these workers. The proposed legislation seeks to foster experimentation and implementation of portable benefits programs at the state and local levels, acknowledging the realities of the 21st-century workforce.

The bill’s introduction is a collaborative effort, with Sen. Kevin Cramer from North Dakota and Sen. Todd Young from Indiana joining Sen. Warner. The lawmakers stress that independent workers constitute a significant portion of the workforce, yet they often lack access to the benefits commonly provided by employers. They argue that non-traditional workers in North Dakota, and across the nation, deserve the same financial stability and benefits as their counterparts in conventional employment arrangements. The proposed pilot programs would encourage state and local governments to facilitate portable benefits, thereby providing additional financial security for independent contractors.

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