Laurie Merrill, The Republic
8:13 p.m. MST April 1, 2015
The federal government is using enforcement and education in its ongoing battle to stop construction businesses from hiring off-the-books laborers to cut costs, a Labor Department official said.
“There are, sadly, businesses out there that use misclassification as a business model,” David Weil, U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administrator, said at a construction industry seminar in Phoenix Wednesday.
The practice of paying lower wages to untrained workers by misclassifying them as independent contractors is growing, Weil said. By doing so, companies avoid paying taxes, employment insurance, liability coverage and legal wages. Underpaid employees often are afraid to come forward.
“The misclassification of employees as independent contractor presents one of the most serious problems facing affected employees, employers and the entire economy,” Weil said.