The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Jan. 9 a final rule clarifying when a worker qualifies as an employee and when they may be considered an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In a new release, the Labor Dept. said the rule provides guidance on “…proper classification and seeks to combat employee misclassification, a serious problem that impacts workers’ rights to minimum wage and overtime pay, facilitates wage theft, allows some employers to undercut their law-abiding competition” and hurts the economy. 

“Misclassifying employees as independent contractors is a serious issue that deprives workers of basic rights and protections,” explained Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “This rule will help protect workers, especially those facing the greatest risk of exploitation, by making sure they are classified properly and that they receive the wages they’ve earned.” 

The Labor Dept. said the rule aligns with longstanding judicial precedent “on which employers have previously relied to determine a worker’s status as either an employee or independent contractor.” The new rule will preserve essential worker rights and provide consistency for entities covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

The new “independent contractor” rule restores the multifactor analysis used by courts for decades, ensuring that all relevant factors are analyzed to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. 

The rule addresses six factors that guide the analysis of a worker’s relationship with an employer, including:

  • any opportunity for profit or loss a worker might have;
  • the financial stake and nature of any resources a worker has invested in the work;
  • the degree of permanence of the working relationship;
  • the degree of control an employer has over the person’s work;
  • whether the work the person does is essential to the employer’s business;
  • and a factor regarding the worker’s skill and initiative.

The revised rule also rescinds the 2021 Independent Contractor Rule that the department states is inconsistent with the law and longstanding judicial precedent. 

The rule takes effect March 11.