29 CFR Parts 780, 788, and 795
A final rule clarifying the standard for employee versus independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was announced by the Department of Labor (Department) on January 6, 2021. The effective date of the final rule is March 8, 2021 and includes a multi-factor test for determining whether workers are independent contractors, meaning that the business they perform work for doesn’t have to pay minimum wage or overtime that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires for employees.
Clarifications in the final rule
- Sets forth an “economic reality” test to determine whether an individual is in business for him or herself (independent contractor) or is economically dependent on a potential employer for work (FLSA employee.)
- Identifies and explains two “core factors” that are most probative to the question of whether a worker is economically dependent on someone else’s business or is in business for him or herself:
- The nature and degree of control over the work.
- The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.
- Identifies three other factors that may serve as additional guideposts in the analysis, particularly when the two core factors do not point to the same classification. The factors are:
- The amount of skill required for the work.
- The degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer.
- Whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.
- Provides that the actual practice of the worker and the potential employer is more relevant than what may be contractually or theoretically possible.
- Provides six fact-specific examples applying the factors.
The final rule was published in the Federal Register on January 7, 2021.
Will the independent contractor status Rule be permanent?
The rule clarifying independent contractor status is scheduled to become effective on March 8, 2021. However, a spokesperson for the Biden administration called out the rule as one that the administration is likely to revise in the days before its publication, bringing into question whether it will ever be permitted to take effect. In addition, independent contractor/employee status has been the topic of a great deal of litigation in recent years, so we can expect to see challenges should the rule is permitted to take effect.