Tread Carefully on Independent Contractor Classifications

Employers should carefully review their practice of classifying a worker as an independent contractor. The increased scrutiny over worker misclassifications is spreading across the country, as states are grappling with how to attract a modern workforce and prevent employers from misclassifying workers to avoid some of the burdens of conventional employment.

California is a stark example. Earlier this month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s stringent test adopted in 2018 for determining whether a worker is appropriately classified as an independent contractor applies retroactively. This means that employers may be forced to pay for lost wages and other benefits that were not paid to an independent contractor who should have been classified as an employee under the new law even if the employer fixed the misclassification after the new law was adopted. This has serious implications for a business with independent contractors in California.

Here at home, the law has not changed, at least not yet. But Wisconsin Governor Evers recently created the Joint Enforcement Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification. Its stated purpose is to address the purported problem of employers classifying workers as independent contractors when they should be employees. Among other things, the Task Force will facilitate the coordination of state agencies involved in investigations and enforcement activities and recommend any necessary changes to current state law.

Wisconsin employers should expect a potential increase in investigations and enforcement actions as a result of the work by the Task Force. The state agencies involved are interested not only in recoupment of wages to workers but also in unpaid taxes to the state.

The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to assist and advise if you have questions related to independent contractors and other worker classification matters. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

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