HR News, Human Resources, Payroll

Gig Economy: Why DOL is Concerned About Freelancers

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced plans to revive the Contingent Worker Supplement (CWS) to the upcoming Current Population Survey, in an effort to capture a more accurate picture of the modern stick_figure_out_of_monitor_1600_clr_1936workforce. In a step closer to achieving this end, the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on September 30, 2016, published a notice and comment request regarding the proposed reintroduction—and expansion—of the CWS.  The next Current Population Survey will take place in May 2017.

The CWS has not been utilized since 2005, when it was discontinued for funding reasons. Since then, the nature of employment has changed radically. Millions of Americans now work in alternative or contingent arrangements, including on-demand jobs, in the so-called “gig” economy. By reviving the CWS, the DOL hopes to gather reliable statistics about the number and characteristics of these types of workers.

As indicated in the notice, the DOL also intends to add four new questions to the CWS. According to the DOL, “two questions will focus on whether individuals obtain customers or online tasks through mobile apps.” These questions will elicit information about how on-demand workers are finding their jobs and connecting with customers. The two additional proposed questions “will examine whether work obtained through electronic matching platforms is a source of secondary earnings.” As the proposed questions could be used to inform policymakers about legislative and/or regulatory actions addressing service providers in the gig economy, the import of this BLS notice may be far beyond a mere survey change.

Employers may comment on the proposed collection of this information through November 29, 2016.”

Do you need a little help determining which workers are truly independent contractors – freelancers – gig workers? HelpDesk Compliance Tool-Kit for Payroll Professionals has a detailed FLSA section including a very detailed Determination Process that was developed specifically in accordance with the July 2015 (15 page) Department of Labor Administrator’s Interpretation of the 6 Factor Economic Realities Test. This detailed Determination Process will assist you in appropriately classifying non-W-2 workers.

Until Next Time, Be Audit-Secure!

Lisa Smith


Lisa Smith is CEO of Andere Development, LLC and Chief Content Developer at BeAuditSecure.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, listen to her Small Business Spoonfuls Podcast, and find more from her in Audit-Secure Authority at BeAuditSecure.com.

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