“Gig” worker, farmhand, independent contractor, or employee?

“Gig” worker, farmhand, independent contractor, or employee?


Employers need to sort that out as of March 11, 2024, to be in compliance with a Department of Labor (DOL) rule requiring employers to engage in a six-factor test for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new regulation expands the reach of federal labor laws requiring employers to extend benefits and protections to workers, who, according to a complicated six-point checklist, may have to be reclassified from independent contractors to employees. For employers, this means significant increases in payroll costs to cover overtime pay, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, and Social Security benefits.


For the workers, it means a loss of flexibility, portability, and training opportunities. Independent contractors are a big part of the horse industry. Some of the jobs that would be most affected by this new rule change include farriers, trainers, jockeys, braiders, veterinarians, and other stable services. This rule change could force some of the smaller barns to alter the way that they do business.


Read more about how the rule may impact the equine industry in an Op/ed by Julie Broadway, President of the American Horse Council.


The DOL issued guidance that will help in applying these factors and making determinations on whether a worker can lawfully be classified as an independent contractor.


Employers, Members of Congress, and a business coalition are all pushing back on the regulation arguing against it on several fronts including that it is an overreach of authority, overly burdensome, and unconstitutional.