During 2016, the Coalition embarked on an ambitious project to harmonize the definition of the term “employee” for purposes of federal and state statutes. Phase 1 of this project is dedicated to harmonizing the definition of “employee” for purposes of federal statutes. Phase 2 is dedicated to harmonizing the definition for purposes of state statutes.
Action on Phase 1 commenced during 2016, when the Coalition announced the project and developed a draft bill to harmonize the definition of “employee” for purposes of federal statutes, by amending the definition of the term as contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”) to statutorily adopt a common-law test.
During 2017, the Coalition endeavored to raise awareness of the issue by holding a Congressional briefing on the topic on June 20, 2017. This was followed by Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on September 26, 2017, introducing the Harmonization of Coverage Act of 2017, H.R. 3825, which would harmonize the definition of employee for purposes of federal statutes by amending the FLSA to adopt a “common law” test for defining the term “employee.”
Work by Coalition members continued during 2018, to support the enactment of H.R. 3825 and bring attention to this important issue.
During 2019, Representative Stefanik, joined by Representatives Bradley Byrne (R-AL) and Phil Roe (R-TN), introduced the Modern Worker Empowerment Act, H.R. 4069, which is identical to the Harmonization of Coverage Act. We are very appreciative of the leadership on this issue demonstrated by Representatives Stefanik, Byrne and Roe. Later that year, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced an identical companion bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 2973.
During 2021, Representative Stefanik, joined by several colleagues introduced the Modern Worker Empowerment Act, H.R. 1523. On the same day, Senator Tim Scott, joined by several colleagues, introduced an identical companion bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 526.
The Coalition is very grateful to Representative Stefanik and Senator Scott for their stalwart support for harmonizing the definition of “employee” for purposes of federal statutes and thereby providing more certainty and predictability to determinations of worker status.
Action on Phase 2 commenced during 2018, by bringing attention to the infirmities of the “ABC” test currently used by many states to define the term “employee” for purposes of state unemployment. To harmonize the definition for purposes of state statutes, our goal is for these “ABC” tests to be replaced by a common-law test. Multiple states subsequently have replaced an “ABC” test with a common-law test.
Coalition members have been both very active and highly effective in pursuing Coalition objectives. But we always need more help.
If you have an interest in helping educate the public and policymakers about the importance of preserving independent-contractor status and/or in advocacy efforts to help bolster the legal recognition of independent-contractor status, we hope you will consider joining the Coalition and working with your colleagues to pursue these goals. To join the Coalition, please click here.
Below are links to separate pages that have been created to track the progress on the Harmonization Project at the federal and state levels.
* * *