Wage Theft in Grand Rapids?!
Why do we get new government regulations thrust upon us? The Grand Rapids Press (July 9, 2012) reported that Mayor George Heartwell may be asking the City Commission to consider regulations to protect workers from unscrupulous behavior by contractors who are performing work for the City of Grand Rapids. Why? Wage Theft!
Community groups in Grand Rapids have been finding workers who are not being paid overtime, being wrongly categorized as supervisors to avoid paying overtime or classified as independent contractors to get around a whole plethora of obligations.
The vast majority of business people I encounter do their best to treat their employees right and in accordance with the law. However, there is always someone who decides that profit can be better obtained by skirting the rules.
When these people are exposed for their shenanigans, governments are placed in the people protection mode of coming up with a new law. If you are bidding for work for the City of Grand Rapids, you might soon be required to certify that you have not engaged in wage theft, be required to post notices that you do not engage in wage theft, and if guilty of wage theft you might be barred from contracting work with the City.
Presumably, all of you have heard about the Fair Labor Standards Act and know about the long arm of the IRS. Overtime obligations and independent contractor rules are governed by these laws. It isn’t good enough that we have these long standing federal and state laws governing wage theft, we may soon have local laws to hammer in the same nail.
The purveyors of this latest trend are trying to pick up the ball that the federal government cannot because it just doesn’t have enough investigators in the field. It is somewhat baffling to me as to who in local government is going to investigate wage theft when complaints are brought forth. I have a strong hunch that local governments do not have enough money in the kitty to pay for additional employees to serve as investigators.
Just to be sure you have your own house in order; you may want to look at how you are paying your employees. Many of you have relied upon independent contractors particularly during these trying times. If you have, be very careful that they are not just regular employees dressed up as independent contractors or you might be in for a tussle with the IRS.