Diving Deep into the DOL Test: A Comprehensive Guide to Worker Classification
Expand on the DOL test
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) generally applies what is known as the "economic realities" test to determine whether a worker is considered an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This test explores the economic reality of the worker's dependency on the employer, rather than the job title or any contractual arrangement between the parties.
Here are the key factors in the "economic realities" test:
1. The Extent to Which the Work Performed is an Integral Part of the Employer's Business: If the worker's services are an important part of the employer's business, it is more likely that the worker is economically dependent on the employer.
2. Whether the Worker's Managerial Skills Affect Their Opportunity for Profit and Loss: If a worker makes decisions and investments that affect his or her profit and loss, they may be an independent contractor. If a worker is unable to make decisions or investments that affect his or her profit and loss beyond the current job, they are likely an employee.
3. The Relative Investments in Facilities and Equipment by the Worker and the Employer: If the worker has made a substantial investment in equipment and facilities used to perform services, this may be indicative of an independent contractor relationship. A smaller investment would likely indicate an employment relationship.
4. The Worker's Skill and Initiative: If a worker exercises independent business judgment and initiative, this may indicate an independent contractor relationship.
5. The Permanency of the Relationship: Permanency and exclusivity in the worker’s relationship with the employer suggest that the worker is an employee.
6. The Nature and Degree of Control by the Employer: An employer's control over a worker can suggest that the worker is an employee. However, a lack of control is not sufficient to establish that the person is an independent contractor.
The "economic realities" test takes into account the totality of the working relationship. None of the individual factors alone determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Instead, they are indicators to be assessed in relation to one another and are not necessarily given any particular weight.
As always, when trying to navigate complex labor laws and case-by-case scenarios, it's wise to consult with an employment law attorney in your jurisdiction to understand how these factors apply to your specific situation.