Department of Labor Withdraws Guidance on Joint Employment and Independent Contractors

In Employment Law by Coolidge Wall

This past Wednesday, June 6, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release announcing the withdrawal of its 2015 and 2016 guidance, formally called “Administrator’s Interpretation” (AI), concerning independent contractors and joint employment.

Specifically, in the 2015 AI addressing independent contractors, the DOL took an expansive view of who would be classified as an employee. In the 2016 AI addressing joint employment, the DOL sought to broadly define the concept of joint employment under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).

The withdrawal of these two AIs may signal the current administration’s intent to scale back the previous expansive interpretations of employment in the independent contractor and joint employment concepts. However, it is important to remember that the 2015 and 2016 AIs are informal guidance and according to the DOL, their withdrawal “does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Accordingly, employers should continue to carefully scrutinize their classification of workers and should carefully evaluate any relationship that could potentially be classified as joint employment.

If you have any questions concerning joint employment or independent contractor status, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Coolidge Wall Labor and Employment Department.

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