A proposed new rule by the US Department of Labor covering independent contractor classification drew heated debate, with several groups opposing the new rule. Individuals and organizations had until Dec. 13 to weigh in, and the Department of Labor received 49,734 comments on the proposed rule.

The new rule, which would rescind a Trump-era rule that has been in place since early 2021, could make it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.

In a statement, TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts reasserted TechServe’s support for the rule in place now, saying it provides more certainty for classifying IT and engineering independent contractors. However, Roberts urged the Department of Labor to take steps to ease the impact of the new rule if it does go ahead with it.

“If the DOL finalizes the proposed 2022 rule, we urge the agency to incorporate more examples of independent contractor/employee status that pertain to knowledge workers, including but not limited to IT and engineering consultants who offer their services as independent contractor firms,” Roberts wrote.

The Coalition for Workforce Innovation, a group whose members include the American Staffing Association and other businesses and organizations, also opposed the new rule, which it called confusing. It said the new rule could disrupt the livelihoods of millions of independent professionals.

“Ultimately, the proposed rule could chill modern work relationships by greatly reducing clarity for workers and employers,” CWI Chair Evan Armstrong said.

Americans for Tax Reform also expressed concerns over the DOL’s decision to overturn the 2021 independent contractor rule. It noted the proposed rule jeopardizes the economic freedom and self-determination of independent workers, has the potential to significantly disrupt the labor market and could result in the loss of employment for many people across the US.

Several Republican US senators sent a letter opposing the new rule.

“The independent contractor proposed rule would have immediate and long-term disruptive effects on millions of workers and thousands of businesses at a time when the economy is facing high inflation rates,” the senators wrote.

While many were critical of the new rule, some lauded it.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a group of 17 attorneys general as well as state and local labor organizations to endorse the regulation in a letter.

“Every worker is entitled to dignity and respect on the job. When workers are misclassified, they lose out on critical supports like overtime, paid sick leave and unemployment insurance,” Bonta said. “Instead of supporting workers across the country, the Trump-era rule threatened their livelihoods. It’s time to rescind and replace it. I applaud DOL’s proposal and urge the federal government to act swiftly to help better protect workers in California and across the nation.”