Former Obama labor official details how to stop misclassification

From ROI-NJAlex Wolmart reports on an event at with Patricia Smith, formerly Solicitor of Labor in the Obama Administration, provided her recommendations for addressing misclassification. Alex writes: 

She said interagency, coordinated enforcement; data sharing; a robust public and press outreach strategy; agency cross-training and joint employment; criminal referrals in appropriate cases; and required reports to either the Legislature or governor on a frequent basis are how the misclassification of employees as independent contractors will be remedied.

Smith refers to coordinated, interagency enforcement as participants from multiple agencies who have an interest in misclassification conducting joint, on-ground investigations of possible misclassification. Smith says this isn’t typically how government works, but there is precedent for it.

Data sharing and making systemic referrals to appropriate agencies is critical because the targeted enforcement of employers who misclassify becomes a real possibility. Target enforcement has proven more efficient than random audits.

Public and press outreach strategies are crucial, Smith said, because it’s important to educate the public on what misclassification is exactly and how it has become a problem. When the public is informed and consistently updated, it’s more likely they provide information to the task force. Smith recommended a hotline, website and/or email address the public can go to when they have questions, concerns and/or advice.

Smith says agency cross-training and joint employment often goes under the radar. Requiring frequent meetings between partner agencies ensures information about possible misclassification is appropriately shared with all interested agencies.

Smith, nominated by Obama in 2009 to be the Solicitor of Labor, served as the third-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Labor from 2009-2017. She has seen the power of government.

She said a few well-placed criminal referrals, especially when really deserved, can go a long way toward deterring other employers from misclassifying.

Smith feels with state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on the task force reviewing cases, criminal violations are plausible.

Smith recommends required reports to the Legislature and/or governor on a frequent basis because it would provide transparency and accountability. Transparency, she said, would allow the public and state to assess the success, or failure, of the task force.

Smith made a point to emphasize that planning is very important, but overplanning can lead to dysfunction. At a certain point, she said, the plan has to be finalized and put into action.

Read the full story at  Former Obama labor official details how to stop misclassification – ROI-NJ

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