Contingent workers are those not employed in traditional, full-time jobs that are expected to last. This term also covers workers who are subcontracted, employed by temp agencies, or work as independent contractors. While widely accepted as a standard business practice to enable flexibility in hiring, employers are increasingly exploiting workers through this business model by lowering labor standards and exposing more workers to poor job conditions.
Misclassification of employees as independent contractors costs us all: federal and state governments, businesses, workers, and taxpayers. Our laws grant workers vital workplace benefits and protections, as long as the worker is a direct employee of the employer. Consequently, workers who are independent contractors in name only are cheated out of important benefits and legal protections.
Furthermore, government and academic studies estimate that the federal government loses at least $3–4 billon annually due to misclassification, and billions more due to off-the-books cash payments. State studies indicate that that figure could be much higher. At a time when the federal and state governments are facing such difficult budget choices and making cuts to programs that Americans depend upon, there is no excuse for allowing so many businesses to cheat the system.
In an effort to shed more light on this topic, we have assembled an annotated bibliography on misclassification.
- Download the bibliography. (Updated October 2012, PDF)