Young’s bill establishes grant program to test portable worker benefits

Sen. Todd Young

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on Feb. 17 introduced a bipartisan bill that would establish a pilot program to provide eligible workers with portable benefits, which are various employee-oriented plans, such as health insurances and retirement plans, that workers may carry with them from job to job across a lifetime in the workforce.

“Job opportunities in the gig economy provide workers with utmost flexibility, which is increasingly needed as parents continue to adjust schedules due to the pandemic,” Sen. Young said. “Supporting portable benefit options helps uncover creative solutions to addressing the needs of our drastically changing workforce.”

Sen. Young cosponsored the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act, S. 3674, alongside bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and fellow cosponsor U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), among others. 

If enacted, S. 3674 would establish a $20 million grant fund within the U.S. Department of Labor to incentivize states, localities and nonprofits to experiment with portable benefits models for the independent workforce, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers. 

Competitive grants could be used for pilot projects to design, implement and evaluate new models or assess and improve existing models for portable benefits for independent workers, such as contractors, temporary workers, and self-employed workers, the summary says.

“More Americans than ever are engaging in part-time, contract or other alternative work arrangements,” said Sen. Warner. “As the workforce changes, it is increasingly important that we provide workers with an ability to access more flexible benefits that can be carried to multiple jobs across a day, a year, and even a career.”

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.