As yet another sign of its commitment to combatting independent contractor misclassification, the US Department of Labor recently launched a new educational webpage on the topic. Under the headline of “What is misclassification?” the new webpage aggregates a number of new and old educational artifacts on the topic in an attempt to educate both employers, and workers.
The site provides information on how misclassification affects pay, unemployment insurance, safety and health protections, retirement and health benefits, and taxes.
DOL Definition of Misclassification
In case you were wondering, the DOL defines “misclassification” as a worker who is an employee under the law but is incorrectly classified as something other than an employee (usually an independent contractor). Most federal and state labor laws are designed to protect workers who meet the laws’ definitions of “employee.”
Details on the DOL IC Misclassification Webpage
The main section of the page is designed to serve as a portal. Under the heading of: “Where can I get more information,” it lists a number of links to the following topics:
- Pay and Misclassification
- Health and Safety Concerns on the Job
- Unemployment Insurance and Misclassification
- Anti-Retaliation/Anti-Discrimination Rights for Workers
- Federal Taxes and Misclassification
- Health Care and Retirement Benefits – Information on Employer Sponsored Benefit Plans
- Resources for State and Federal Governments
- Other Resources/Information
The webpage contains an extensive amount of data and information. By clicking on any one of the above links the viewer is presented with a number of resources explaining different aspects of IC misclassification. As an example, in the Pay and Misclassification section, the following resources are presented:
- Myths About Misclassification
- Get the Facts on Misclassification Under the FLSA
- Know Your Rights Video: Employee v. Independent Contractor
- Employment Relationship Under the FLSA
- Elaws: Independent Contractors
- Am I an Employee: Employment Relationships Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Wage-Hour Division Administrator’s Interpretation, The Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “Suffer or Permit” Standard in the Identification of Employees who are Misclassified as Independent Contractors
- WHD Press Releases about Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors
What’s the Impact?
So, what’s the impact of this new webpage?
On the face of it, probably not much. It is just another group of content pages on the internet.
There are, however, several important takeaways for business executives and contingent workforce program managers to consider:
- This new DOL webpage resource provides another solid piece of evidence that the Wage and Hour Division has no intention of relaxing its scrutiny of independent contractor misclassification and so-called “fissured” workplaces.
- There is no doubt that it is a great resource for HR, Talent Acquisition, Procurement, Legal, and Finance professionals to review and become better educated on the issue of independent contractor misclassification from the DOL perspective.
- However, it would be a serious mistake to think that this resource was put together only to educate buyers of talent…it fulfills an equally important agenda for the DOL: educating potentially misclassified workers on their rights, and on the obligations of the companies that engage them.
- Workers who study the materials on the webpage may be inspired to question their worker classification, which could lead to more reporting and an increase in federal and state audits and enforcement actions, and ultimately more IC misclassification class actions.
- Any organization that wants to avoid becoming a target for IC misclassification investigations should be advised to work with an IC compliance expert, like TalentWave, that is focused on building scalable programs which enable the safe and cost-effective engagement of independent contractors.
“ What is “misclassification“? by United States Department of Labor