NELP Commends USDOL Guidance on Independent Contractor Joint Employment


Following is a statement by Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project, regarding the guidance issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor on coverage of multiple or joint employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act and related laws:

“Wage and Hour Administrator David Weil’s Administrator’s Interpretation (AI) provides clear and timely guidance to employers, workers, and courts seeking to ensure that employers, regardless of their business structures, abide by our nation’s baseline labor protections, such as minimum wage and overtime. Coming six months after related Wage and Hour Division Guidance on independent contractor misclassification, today’s guidance is another important step in ensuring that the scope of the Fair Labor Standards Act is as broad as possible.

“As the AI rightly points out, ‘where joint employment exists, one employer may also be larger and more established, with a greater ability to implement policy or systemic changes to ensure compliance.’ In such situations, recognizing that businesses are joint employers is essential ‘to achieve statutory coverage, financial recovery, and future compliance, and to hold all responsible parties accountable for their legal obligations.’

“The guidance is chock-full of modern workplace examples where two or more companies may be found to jointly employ workers. The guidance—which describes examples of workers affected by what it calls ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ employment relationships, and includes cases from construction, agricultural, janitorial, warehouse and logistics, staffing, and hospitality jobs, including restaurants and hotels—provides a timely reminder to companies that while they are free to insert intermediaries or subcontractors into their business models, they cannot outsource their responsibility for the workers in their businesses.

“NELP’s long experience advocating for low-wage workers in contracted work arrangements has taught us that the answer to the question, Who’s the Boss, is key to securing employer accountability and ensuring fair competition by law-abiding businesses.”

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