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Hawaii state and fed labor officials team up to prevent worker misclassification

Lorrin Eleni Gill; Pacific Business News; Sep 4, 2015

Pacific Business News

Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on Thursday signed a three-year agreement with its federal counterpart to amp up efforts to protect workers from being incorrectly hired as independent contractors.

Local authorities, along with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, will work to protect employees from being misclassified as independent contractors or designated for other non-employee status roles.

The alliance is part of an effort to ensure companies are compliant with employment law and that employees are getting the wages and benefits to which they are entitled.

It is also to prevent companies from skirting the law by strategically hiring people through independent contracts instead of hiring part- or full-time employees with legal benefits.

The local and federal government authorities will share resources, launch joint investigations, and increase educational outreach, labor department officials told PBN.

Such erroneous or dishonest hiring practices also affects the local and U.S. governments, in the form of lower tax revenues as well as state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds, officials said.

“The practice of misclassification hurts workers, presents an unfair disadvantage to law-abiding, compliant businesses, and deprives our communities of valuable resources,” said Hawaii Labor Director Linda Chu Takayama. This agreement will help tackle this and other areas of common interest effectively and efficiently.”

Hawaii is the 26th state to strike such an agreement, according to Jose Carnevali, deputy regional director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor’s West Coast and Hawaii division.

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