said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) about his Employee Misclassification Prevention Act at a Senate Hearing entitled, Leveling the Playing Field: Protecting Workers and Businesses Affected by Misclassification.
Brown originally introduced his bill, The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, in the Senate last April. It is the latest in a number of legislative actions directed at the problem that is especially rampant in the construction industry across the US. Many contractors and subs are using hourly workers and day laborers, some of them undocumented aliens, and classifying their workers as independent contractors in order to cut costs, avoid paying medical benefits, social security and overtime as part of the cash society in the industry. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) made the following statement at the hearing:
“Over the past few years, it has become clear that a few unscrupulous employers are making these challenges even more difficult for their workers by intentionally misclassifying them as ‘independent contractors’ to gain an advantage over their law-abiding competitors. When these companies play games with workers’ rights, everyone loses—workers, taxpayers and responsible businesses that play by the rules.”
Members of Congress as well as state legislatures in New York, Nevada and Florida are introducing laws to prevent this practice and to “level the playing field” for responsible contractors and subs. Owners as well are taking a harder stance on the use of independent contractors or labor brokers on their project sites. More and more are requiring that construction workers be paid as employees with full benefits including medical, retirement and overtime for their work.
Look for additional measures which will equalize this situation for responsible contractors to be forthcoming over the summer. These may be a prelude to the mid-term elections in November.
What is happening on this issue in your area?