A welcome shift in joint employment

Employed by more than one employer? Wondering whether they share liability for each other’s failures? The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently released a new interpretation regarding the practice, expanding the range of employers who are potentially liable for legal violations involving “jointly employed” workers.  (view DOL interpretation)

What is Joint Employment?

Joint employment occurs when one worker is employed by two or more separate employers simultaneously. These typically occur when there are joint ventures, staffing services, temporary work agencies, subcontracting and job sharing arrangements.

When there’s a violation though, the deep pocketed company often wants out, pointing the finger and claiming that the real employer is the smaller entity. In the face of rampant problems across the country, the DOL released a new interpretation to clarify which types of arrangements fall under the joint employment heading. The agency explains that it separates joint employment into two separate and distinct categories:

  • The “Horizontal” View applies when two or more separate employers share a significant amount of responsibility over the employee’s work. To determine whether this classification applies, look for:
    • Common ownership, officers, directors or managers between the companies
    • Shared supervision over the employee
  • The “Vertical” View applies when a company contracts for workers who remain directly employed by an intermediary company. Temporary staffing arrangements may fit into this category. Relevant factors for determining applicability include:
    • Who supervises the work of the employee
    • Permanency of the relationship
    • Where work is performed
    • Who controls the employment status of the employee
    • Are the employee’s responsibilities integral to the joint-employer’s business

For an employee, it is important to evaluate your employment arrangement to determine the responsibilities and duties of each joint employer.

If you have questions about your employer, contact our law office to speak with an employment law attorney.