Department of Labor Withdraws Independent Contractor Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the withdrawal – effective May 6 – of the “Independent Contractor Rule,” to protect workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Department is withdrawing the rule for several reasons, including: The independent contractor rule was in tension with the FLSA’s text and…

Department of Labor Withdraws Independent Contractor Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the withdrawal – effective May 6 – of the “Independent Contractor Rule,” to protect workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Department is withdrawing the rule for several reasons, including:

  • The independent contractor rule was in tension with the FLSA’s text and purpose, as well as relevant judicial precedent.
  • The rule’s prioritization of two “core factors” for determining employee status under the FLSA would have undermined the longstanding balancing approach of the economic realities test and court decisions requiring a review of the totality of the circumstances related to the employment relationship.
  • The rule would have narrowed the facts and considerations comprising the analysis whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, resulting in workers losing FLSA protections.

Withdrawing the independent contractor rule will help preserve essential workers’ rights. The FLSA includes provisions that require covered employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour they work and overtime compensation at not less than one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour over 40 in a workweek. FLSA protections do not apply to independent contractors.

In addition to preserving access to the FLSA’s wage and hour protections, the department anticipates that withdrawing the independent contractor rule will also avoid other disruptive economic effects that would have been harmful to workers had the rule gone into effect.

Writing off Expenses Paid for with PPP Money & a New DoL Decision

By Littler Mendelson

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 contains an important aspect of that legislation that many of you have been clamoring for: companies now may write off expenses paid for with PPP money.  This change was buried in section 276(a) of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (which is part of the stimulus bill). As you likely know, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refused to adopt this position absent express language to this effect in the statute. There was bipartisan support for this new language, but it never seemed to make it into any of the draft stimulus bills. Further cementing this victory, the IRS has announced that an official change in its position on this issue.  We know this is a welcome, albeit belated, result.

Also in the news and relevant to this industry is the DOL’s recent action taken to finalize the independent contractor rule.  This rule impacts traditional registries and the online virtual marketplace platforms that facilitate caregiving services as it provides a new paradigm for analyzing whether a caregiver is truly an independent contractor or employee (focusing on two key factors – control and opportunity for profit or loss – instead of weighing seven factors).  The rule is supposed to go into effect March 8, 2021, but President Joseph Biden has announced his intent to issue a memorandum on his first day in office freezing the effective date of any legislation that is not yet in effect. He also has expressed an interest in derailing the rule entirely. If the rule were to become effective, the biggest question would be its impact on the Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2018-4, which provided guidance on when registries are employers under federal wage and hour law. This is because the new rule would replace any inconsistent previous interpretation of independent contractor status.  So stay tuned for more developments on this front!