Independent Contractor Status Still Under Attack

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From Industry WeekDavid Sparkman discusses the different approach the Trump administration has taken towards independent contractors compared with the Obama administration and warns that others continue to challenge the independent contractor model.  David writes:

What a difference a year makes. The wholesale assault on independent contractor status at the federal level seems to have abated, which should relieve those companies that use them. But don’t get too relaxed—state and local politicians and labor unions continue to wage war on the practice seemingly without pause.

What is clear is that employers need no longer fear the heavy-handed broad-front assault on the “gig” economy that was mounted by federal agencies during the Obama Administration, where a high Labor Department official once declared that there were no such things as independent contractors, just misclassified employees.

Last June, the Trump Labor Department announced it was rescinding the Obama Era policies regarding independent contractors and joint employer status. In addition, the new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Republican-majority board last month reversed the earlier decision by the pro-union board to extend joint employer status to cover independent contractors and employees at franchisees.

The Republican Congress also has gotten into the act, proposing legislation to turn back policies that were adopted during the Obama Era. Late last year, the House had passed a bill reversing the NLRB joint employer holding. It awaited approval in the Senate, where Democrat union allies were expected to try to kill it.

One of the provisions in Trump’s new tax law promises to lighten the tax burden on small businesses, including independent contractors. Critics say the changes could result in a situation where salaried employees pay more taxes than contractors working side by side with them.

States continue to cast a hungry eye towards overturning independent contractor status in a quest for new tax revenues they can reap from employers. It’s not just union-friendly Blue states who have gotten in on the act. Last year North Carolina created and funded a special unit in its Industrial Commission to pursue misclassification cases.

In 2017, courts softened some of the generalized assaults on independent contractor status that originated at the state legislative level. Even where unions triumphed in getting courts to reclassify America’s workers in the gig economy, the stubborn independent streak that spurs individuals to choose this kind of profession to begin with ended up leading them to reject unionization.

When was the last time you knew someone who chose to work as an independent contractor, whether as a driver or in any other vocation, who bought into the idea that they should turn over their ability to manage their career over to a union? That may be the case for some, but most independent contractors want to remain independent—unless they feel they are being systematically abused in terms of their earnings or working conditions.

Read the full story at Independent Contractor Status Still Under Attack

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