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Wage and Hour Division (WHD)

Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors

The misclassification of employees as something other than employees, such as independent contractors, presents a serious problem for affected employees, employers, and to the entire economy. Misclassified employees are often denied access to critical benefits and protections – such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance – to which they are entitled. Employee misclassification also generates substantial losses to the Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers compensation funds.


The DOL Misclassification Initiative


The Department’s Misclassification Initiative, launched under the auspices of Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force, is making great strides in combating this pervasive issue and to restoring these rights to those denied them. In September 2011, former Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced a major step forward with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Under this agreement, the agencies will work together and share information to reduce the incidence of misclassification of employees, to help reduce the tax gap, and to improve compliance with federal labor laws.

Additionally, labor commissioners and other agency leaders representing fourteen states have signed MOUs with the Department’s Wage and Hour Division, and in some cases, with its Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Office of the Solicitor. (See interactive map of participating states). The Department is actively pursuing MOUs with additional states as well.

These MOUs will enable the Department to share information and to coordinate enforcement efforts with participating states in order to level the playing field for law-abiding employers and to ensure that employees receive the protections to which they are entitled under federal and state law. Employers that misclassify their employees may not be paying the proper overtime compensation, FICA and Unemployment Insurances taxes, or workers' compensation premiums.

Select agencies from the 'In Focus' box to learn more about the role of each in this critical initiative. Select a state from the interactive map to view state information.


Misclassification News Room


WHD Efforts

For more information on this topic, please see the links below: