Emerging healthcare gig economy: an Uber driver in scrubs


From Capitol Weekly, Brian Crone, the owner of The Law Office of Brian Crone, an attorney specializing in employment law, discusses app-based workers in the healthcare industry and the risks of misclassification. Brian writes:

OPINION – Do you want to receive healthcare services from someone functioning as an Uber driver in scrubs? When most people hear “gig economy,” they likely think of Uber, Lyft, and other app-based delivery drivers (such as DoorDash, GrubHub, or Instacart) – not the person handing you medication or injecting you with IV fluids.

Most people do not realize that tens of thousands of healthcare personnel are app-based workers that are not employees at hospitals, clinics, senior centers, and other health facilities.

The misclassification of workers is a ticking time bomb, and the California Labor Commissioner’s Office and the U.S. Department of Labor are beginning to file cases.

In California, healthcare app-based staffing company CareRev was sued for misclassifying workers who signed up on the app as contractors.

In September 2022, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office cited home healthcare placement agencies nearly $2 million for misclassifying 66 workers. In March 2023, the Commissioner’s Office cited a therapy provider for more than $9 million for willfully misclassifying 1,280 speech, physical and occupational therapists as independent contractors.

Classifying a worker as an independent contractor enables the app company and healthcare facility to avoid various costs, such as providing workers’ compensation benefits, overtime premiums, and paying payroll taxes.

Under California’s employment rules, it is often difficult to see healthcare workers correctly classified as independent contractors. Any nurse or healthcare worker who walks into a long-term care or memory care facility will have a long list of rules and procedures that must to be followed. They are given badges for identification and access to certain areas, a work schedule, a patient list, and access to medical records. These healthcare workers must also follow designated time slots for patient medication, food, or exercise rotation.

As the gig economy grows, there is an expanding talent pool of people who want control over their work choices. Still, when businesses ignore state laws, they create a gold mine for regulators to explore.

Filling our healthcare gaps with independent contractors and avoiding having to pay overtime, paid sick leave, and other labor benefits may seem like a quick and inexpensive fix. However, this choice could have significant legal and financial consequences for staffing app companies and their clients, the healthcare facilities.

Read the full story at Emerging healthcare gig economy: an Uber driver in scrubs – Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly | Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics.

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