As changes in management techniques, the economy and technology lead to changes in the workforce, employers are struggling to keep abreast of guidelines on worker classification.
Because of this, the Society for Human Resource Management has called on the federal government to clarify the statutory and other regulations that classify workers as employees or independent contractors. It is a need that is urgent, according to Christine Walters, a Society member and employment law attorney, who testified before Congress about the issue.
Each time a company enters into a relationship with a new worker, there is the challenge of asking the right questions to ensure that the worker is classified correctly, Walters said. And it does happen that employers do, without knowing it, make mistakes in classifying workers, she said.
The work environment in the 21st century has created a host of worker arrangements, some brand new, that companies now have to deal with, including part-time employment, flex-time and telecommuting schedules, leased employees, direct-hire employees, temp workers associated with agencies, per diem workers, and independent contractors.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that there is a patchwork of federal laws that apply to independent contractor arrangements, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Internal Revenue Code, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and state unemployment insurance codes.
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 months of unpaid leave of absence for the birth of a child or a serious family illness. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that employers make changes to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The Fair Labor Standards Act makes requirements relating to the basic minimum wage and overtime pay. It affects both public and private employers. It requires that companies pay covered employees at least federal minimum wage and overtime pay. The National Labor Relations Act explains the rights that employees have to organize and to bargain collectively with their employer through the employees’ representatives.
There needs to be more guidance and education from the government about the laws affecting workforce arrangements, along with more enforcement of them, Walters said.
employees and managers to stay in touch regarding performance benchmarks via online journal entries. Such tools make it easier for firms to align their employees’ tasks, projects and responsibilities with clear goals. The tools also help track performance on a year-round, on-going basis.
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