One of the primary schemes of corrupt contractors is using subcontractors and labor brokers that pay employees off-the-books or as 1099 subcontractors to evade paying employment taxes, workers’ compensation premiums, overtime and wages. When faced with law enforcement, corrupt contractors use that subcontract relationship as a shield against accountability. But when looked at closely, the contractor often times acts like an employer of the workers just as much as the subcontractors or labor brokers. It is a growing trend and construction is not the only industry facing the problem.
In response, the US Department of Labor issued an Administrative Interpretation (AI) of joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Joint employment under the FLSA makes the contractor and subcontractor or labor broker separately and jointly liable for unpaid wages and overtime if the contractor is also acting as an employer of the workforce. The AI does not change the law, it provided guidance on existing law and gives notice to employers that the USDOL will use joint-employment findings more often.
Dr. David Weil, Administrator of the USDOL Wage & Hour Divisions wrote, “As the workplace continues to fissure, and as the employment relationships continue to become more tenuous and murky, we will continue to identify where joint employment applies and hold all employers responsible.”
In a press release supporting the USDOL’s action, General President Doug McCarron said, “This action by the Labor Department lets cheating contractors know that they can’t continue to hide behind their labor broker subcontracts.”