Labor board makes it easier for companies to treat workers as contractors

Labor board makes it easier for companies to treat workers as contractors
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted Friday to make it easier for companies to treat employees as independent contractors, making them exempt from federal labor protections. 

In a 3-1 vote along party lines, GOP board members ruled that drivers for SuperShuttle at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport were independent contractors, rather than employees, and thus not able to unionize.

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“The Board found that the franchisees’ leasing or ownership of their work vans, their method of compensation, and their nearly unfettered control over their daily work schedules and working conditions provided the franchisees with significant entrepreneurial opportunity for economic gain,” the NLRB said in a statement.

The decision overruled an Obama-era ruling in a 2014 case that made it easier for workers to be considered full employees, not contractors. The NLRB wrote Friday that the decision in the case, involving FedEx Home Delivery, “severely” limited the importance of workers’ “entrepreneurial opportunity” in determining their employment status. 

According to Labor Department data, there were 10.6 million independent contractors in the U.S. 2017, or almost 7 percent of the country's workforce. The NLRB ruling could impact businesses across various industries that rely on contractors rather than full-time employees. 

A panel of federal judges late last month  ruled against a 2015 decision from the NLRB that made it easier to hold companies responsible for conduct by franchisees and contractors. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found the labor agency did not properly define the type of "indirect control" over working conditions that would make companies joint employers of franchise and contract workers.