Seth Harris, the number two person in the Department of Labor, has announced the intention of the DOL to require employers to adopt compliance plans “aimed at ensuring they do not violate wage, job safety and equal employment laws,” according to Steve Greenhouse’s report in yesterday’s New York Times, U.S. Outlines Plan to Curb Violations of Labor Law.
This will be in the form of regulations, which the article notes will be more than a year long process. Additionally, many of the ideas are still being “worked out” but the one concrete example is an interesting one, the use of independent contractors. According to the article, Harris forsees the rules requiring an employer who uses independent contractors, to provide a written explanation of why they should be considered independent contractors rather than employees and give these workers a copy.
Obviously, the battle lines are being drawn. This announcement does nothing but reinforce my view that just like a river, when one area of advance is blocked, the river does not go away, it just moves in a different direction. Without the ability to pass legislation, it seems ever more clear the new focus of the Obama administration in labor and employment will be on the regulatory front.