Labor Dept. wants to withdraw Trump-era proposed independent contractor definition

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Trucking news and briefs for Monday, March 15, 2021: 

Labor Dept. looks to withdraw rule to clarify 'independent contractor' definition
After publishing in early January a final rule to clarify the definition of independent contractor within the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Department of Labor is now proposing to withdraw the rule and keep FLSA’s current independent contractor definition unchanged.

The rule was first set to take effect March 8, but DOL delayed the rule’s effective date to May 7 when the Biden Administration was sworn in.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register Friday, the department says it wants to withdraw the rule because “the department questions whether the rule is fully aligned with the FLSA’s text and purpose or case law describing and applying the economic realities test.”

The independent contractor rule would have used five economic-reality factors to help businesses determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Two of those factors – the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss – were the two “core” factors for determining a worker’s classification and carried greater weight than the other three factors.

The other factors included the amount of skill required for the work; the degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer; and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.

DOL says it is concerned that the rule would have contrasted with the language in the FLSA as well as the position, expressed by the Supreme Court and in appellate cases from various courts, “that no single factor is determinative in the analysis of whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor and, as such, questions whether the rule’s ‘core factor’ approach is supportable.”

The department also called to question as to whether the rule would have actually provided the intended clarity in the definition of independent contractor.

DOL is accepting public comments on its proposal to withdraw the rulemaking through April 12. 

Mid-size carrier boosts driver pay
Cheema Freightlines is celebrating 15 years in business this year by increasing pay for all of its mileage-based truck drivers.

The Sumner, Washington-based carrier with around 325 tractors and 1,100 trailers announced in early March a 4 cents-per-mile increase for its drivers.

The raise puts third drivers with eight years or more experience at 56 cents per mile, with another 2 cents per mile monthly bonus for exceeding 10,000 safe driving miles.

“Last year we made sure the bonus was easily attainable and lucrative; this year we are making sure the paychecks themselves are reflective of all of the hard work our drivers put in every day,” said Cheema Executive Vice President Doug Mayle. “Being a professional driver is really hard work, especially being away from home to provide for your family – we want to be sure every Team Cheema family member knows that they are valuable to us, as well as our part of the American supply chain.”