independent contractor

Recently enacted California Assembly Bill 5 (“AB-5”) is a game changer for businesses that use independent contractors in California — and a warning shot for employers nationwide.  Subject to exemptions for certain occupations and professions, AB-5 imposes a strict “ABC” test that appears to put a thumb on the scale of classifying workers as employees rather than independent contractors.

The ABC test was adopted last year by the California Supreme Court in its Dynamex decision to determine classification of workers for purposes of the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders.  For 20 years before Dynamex, worker classification was governed by the more relaxed “Borello” multi-factor test, which focuses on the hirer’s right to control an individual’s work and other secondary factors.  AB-5 now makes the ABC test the default standard for determining worker classification — not just under the Wage Orders, but also for all California Labor Code, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation claims.

As a result of the passage of AB-5, companies that hire consultants or contractors based in California should take a hard look at those relationships and determine whether they need to reclassify any such individuals as employees.  For other companies, this legislation should be monitored as the potential tip of an iceberg of a trend in many states, and potentially nationwide, toward imposing additional hurdles in classifying workers as independent contractors.

Continue Reading Hiring Employees vs. Independent Contractors: Navigating Classification Issues in a Drastically Altered California Legislative Landscape

The classification of workers as employees or independent contractors is an ongoing headache for employers.  Different government agencies use different tests to determine a worker’s status.  The one thing the tests have in common is that they are subjective: two people applying the same test to the same worker will often reach different conclusions about the worker’s status.  Employers face substantial liabilities under tax provisions, employee benefit plans, workplace rules, overtime requirements, and other laws if they misclassify an employee as an independent contractor.
Continue Reading Labor Department Addresses Worker Misclassification

Earlier this year we described the IRS’s Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which substantially reduces an employer’s liability for back taxes when the employer voluntarily reclassifies employees who have been treated as independent contractors.  Through June 30, the relief program is available even if the employer did not file Forms 1099 reporting the compensation paid to the workers.  Starting in July, however, an employer will be eligible for the program only if the employer filed all required Forms 1099 for the previous three years with respect to the workers it wishes to reclassify.

What does worker classification have to do with health reform?  Quite a lot, as it turns out.  Starting in 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time employees will owe a “shared responsibility” excise tax if they fail to offer group health coverage on every day of the month to at least 95% of their full-time employees and the employees’ dependent children.  A “full-time employee” is a common-law employee who works an average of at least 30 hours per week.  (You will find a more detailed description of the shared responsibility rules here and here.)
Continue Reading Misclassified Workers Create Penalty Risks Under Health Reform