Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association


DOL Reaffirms, Clarifies Independent Contractor Rules

Jan 14, 2021

DOL 474x474On January 8, 2021, DOL issued a Final Rule outlining the analysis by which the DOL will consider whether a worker is an “employee,” and therefore potentially covered by the FLSA’s minimum wage or overtime laws, or an “independent contractor,” who is exempted from the FLSA and other employment laws.

The rule goes into effect on March 8, 2021.

The Final Rule reaffirms the use of the five-factor “economic realities” test, but notes that two factors are “core factors” and therefore 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:

1.  The nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work, and

2. The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative, investment, or both.

DOL also concluded three other factors may serve as additional guideposts in the analysis, particularly when the two core factors do not point to the same classification:

3. The amount of skill required for the work.

4. The degree of permanence of the working relationship between the individual and the potential employer.

5. Whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.

DOL makes clear that the actual practice of the worker and the potential employer is more relevant than what may be contractually or theoretically possible. For example, DOL explains that “a business’ contractual authority to supervise or discipline an individual may be of little relevance if in practice the business never exercises such authority.”

Finally, the DOL’s Final Rule provides six fact-specific examples applying the factors.

Bottom Line

DOL says the new rule is designed to make the independent contractor analysis “clearer and more consistent.”

SMACNA will continue to monitor the incoming administration’s position and whether it will seek to invalidate or overturn the new rule.

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact Joye Blascett, Director of Labor Services and Human Resources, at