Department of Labor Changes Rules on Joint Employment

Department of Labor Changes Rules on Joint Employment

On April 1, 2019, the Department of Labor made an announcement that it will be making a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning joint employment. Most of the new rules on joint employment will cover what rights and responsibilities joint employers will have, as opposed to those of other employers.

If this all sounds horribly confusing, don’t worry. We’ll explain what joint employment is in just a minute.

For now, all you really need to know is that the proposed change of rules was released on April 9, 2019, and comments can be made on it through June 10, 2019.

What Is Joint Employment?

Simply put, joint employment (also known as co-employment) happens when two or more businesses play a role in an employee’s control and supervision. For example, this can happen when an employment agency hires temporary employees and runs payroll for a large organization (such as a warehouse) during peak business times.

That being said, joint employment doesn’t have a single definition. There are several different employment laws that define situations where joint employment can occur.

This lack of clarity in the concept of joint employment may be one of the reasons why the Department of Labor is making its new proposal for a rule change. But let’s get into what really matters for you: What are the changes in the joint employment rules potentially going to mean for you?

What Do the Proposed Rules Mean for Employees?

The main purpose of the proposed rules is to give a clear test that determines the powers of each employer under a joint employment situation and to give a set of examples to help define joint employer status.

The test will determine which of the joint employers has the power to:

  • Hire/fire an employee
  • Supervise and control work schedules or conditions of employment
  • Determine rates of pay and methods of payment
  • Maintain employment records.

You may think that these regulations are only going to make a difference for employers. But in certain situations, for example, a joint employer may try to fire an employee even though the other employer is the only one with the authority to do so. Or one employer might demand that an employee work longer/shorter hours, even though the other employer has the power to do so. These changes in the rules help to determine when a joint employer is overreaching their power.

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