Wondering what the Department of Labor will be doing this year? Here’s what the agency says

From Lexology — David L. Woodward of Poyner Spruill writes about what the the United States Department of Labor’s priorities are in 2015. Among the top priorities is the proper classification of workers as employees or independent contractors.  He writes:

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), it plans to increase its emphasis on audits and prosecutions of minimum wage and overtime violations, to increase its scrutiny of independent contractor classifications, and to issue a revision to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s white collar overtime exemption rules.   As part of its initiative, the DOL plans to increase its enforcement efforts to combat wage and hour violations. To that end, the current administration has increased the number of DOL investigators from approximately 700 to over 1000.   Reports suggest that that the leisure, hospitality, education, health services and wholesale and retail trade industries might receive the most immediate attention from the DOL.  However, history has shown that nearly any employer, regardless of size, could be subject to an audit or enforcement action by the DOL.

The DOL continues to scrutinize employers who engage independent contractors to perform duties that in the past would have been performed by employees.  In the DOL’s view, some of these employers are misclassifying employees as independent contractors in their effort to avoid overtime and other employee costs.   To address this concern, the DOL has increased its investigation of worker classifications and partnered with several states to share information and coordinate enforcement efforts to reduce misclassification of employees.   The DOL will continue its focus on worker classification through 2015, so employers are advised to carefully analyze their independent contractor relationships to ensure individuals are properly classified, with special emphasis being on the amount of control the employer exercises over the contractor’s day to day activities. The more control, the more likely it is that the DOL will declare that a contractor has been misclassified….”

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