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ISSA Coronavirus Government Response Update—Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Clarify Independent Contractor Status

September 23, 2020 ISSA Coronavirus Government Response Update—Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Clarify Independent Contractor Status

Welcome to the ISSA Coronavirus Government Response Update. This information is intended to keep our members up to date on government affairs related to the cleaning industry and COVID-19. Today’s update touches on a new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rule, the state of California issuing citations to employers for COVID-19-related violations, the U.S. House of Representatives passing a short-term funding bill, and more.

U.S. Department of Labor Proposes Rule to Clarify Employee and Independent Contractor Status Under Fair Labor Standards Act
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposed rule clarifying the definition of employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act as the Act relates to independent contractors. “The department’s proposal aims to bring clarity and consistency to the determination of who’s an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Once finalized, it will make it easier to identify employees covered by the act, while respecting the decision other workers make to pursue the freedom and entrepreneurialism associated with being an independent contractor.”

Cal/OSHA Issues Citations to Multiple Employers for COVID-19 Violations
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited 11 employers for not protecting employees from COVID-19 exposure during inspections of industries where workers have an elevated risk of exposure. The industries include food processing, meatpacking, health care, agriculture, and retail. The employers were cited for various violations, including some classified as serious, with proposed penalties ranging from US$2,025 to $51,190. “We have identified these industries as priorities in our strategic enforcement efforts to make sure employers have adequate COVID-19 infection prevention procedures in place,” said Doug Parker, Cal/OSHA chief. “These are industries where workers have been disproportionately affected, and these citations are the first of many to be issued in the coming weeks and months.”

House Passes Short-Term Funding Bill to Keep Government Running
A stopgap funding bill to keep the government running through December 11 passed the U.S. House of Representatives 359-57 late Tuesday evening, with one lawmaker voting present, NPR reported. The bill was temporarily delayed over a dispute regarding farm aid. The legislation still must be approved by the Senate and signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, or the government faces another shutdown threat in eight days.

Fed’s Powell Tells Congress It’s up to Them to Provide Aid to Troubled Companies
If Congress is worried about the health of some American businesses, it is up to lawmakers to provide support directly, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said, according to MarketWatch. The Fed can only make loans, which is not much of a life preserver for some companies, Powell said, in prepared remarks released ahead of a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing yesterday. For some companies, “a loan that could be difficult to repay might not be the answer. In these cases, direct fiscal support may be needed,” Powell said.

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