This week, I’ve highlighted some new state laws that affect the employment law arena. This next one (Public Act 08-156) creates a new joint commission and new advisory board in Connecticut to deal with the issue of employee misclassification. 

For employers, this new structure means that it is more likely that enforcement of misclassification laws (in other words, whether employees are classified properly as exempt or non-exempt from wage/hour, tax and workers’ compensation laws) will occur.  As noted below, there appears to be a particular emphasis on employers in the construction industry, so that particular category of employer ought to be aware of this new law.

What’s the new structure?

First, effective July 1, 2008, a joint commission will be established made up of representatives of the Department of Labor, the Commission on Revenue Services, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Chief State’s Attorneys office.

What will be their role?

They are to meet at least four times morgue file conference rooma year (probably in conference rooms not very different from the one pictured). 

Their main goals will be to:

  • review the problem of employee misclassification by employers for the purposes of avoiding their obligations under state and federal labor, employment, workers’ compensation and tax laws;
  • coordinate the civil prosecution of violations of state and federal laws relating to employee misclassification, and 
  • report any suspected violation of state criminal statutes to the Chief State’s Attorney.

What else is required of the Commission?

By February 1, 2010 (and each year after that) the Commission will report on the commission’s actions for the preceding calendar year and include any recommendations for administrative or legislative action.

The new law also creates a companion "Employee Misclassification Advisory Board" to advise the commission on misclassification specifically in the construction industry.  The Board will be made up of six members, each representing differing interests in the construction industry. 

A summary of the new law by the legislature is also available here. And interestingly, the General Assembly passed identical portions of this law in another public act (P.A. 08-105) as well.  Apparently, you can never have enough joint commissions (though obviously, they will be combined here). 

What steps can an employer consider in response to this law?

This new law emphasizes the fact that issues regarding employee misclassification are not going to disappear anytime soon. Because of this, employers can take this opportunity to audit themselves and determine if they continue to have an exposure under wage and hour laws.  If necessary, correcting issues regarding classification of workers ought to be considered; taking such steps before a problem occurs may allow the employer to escape the broad enforcement capabilities now presented in this new law.