Types of Workers

Established labor law provides few answers to the multitude of issues you face regarding variations of the traditional workforce, including telecommuters, contingent workers, independent contractors and interns. The courts are just beginning to grapple with liability issues created by workplace variations. Until the rules become established, you must educate yourself about the issues that are likely to arise in the evolving workplace so you can make informed decisions and implement sound policies.

The growing trend toward using less-traditional employer-employee relationships has led to questions about which entity will be liable when there is an employment violation. In recent years, workers and worker representatives have attempted to expand the traditional definitions of “employer” and “employee” to broaden the potential points of recovery for wage-and-hour and other employment law violations. This has lead to expanded liability concerns for those who outsource, use staffing agencies, subcontract for services or are franchisors. For instance, the National Labor Relations Board has recently taken an expansive view of who is a “joint employer” for purposes of unfair labor practice charges. Also, the California legislature has expanded wage-and-hour liability for employers that contract for labor.

Employers will want to work with legal counsel to implement effective strategies to address legal risk.

The distinction between direct employment and indirect employment (temporary workers, leased employees and independent contractors) is often blurred by the details of the arrangements and laws or court decisions designed to protect the interests of workers. This section explains how to make those distinctions and the implications of failing to do so.

This section also provides a discussion of the many issues you are likely to face when employing indirect employees. This section includes a comprehensive compilation of topics about telecommuting, such as supervision, computer issues, wage and hour issues, workers’ compensation and safety and health concerns.

Health care staffing, benefits and union issues are also discussed.​

  • Contingent Workers

    Contingent WorkersThe term "contingent workforce" refers to the nearly one-quarter of this country's workforce who are part-time, temporary or seasonal, secured through temporary agencies, or under employee leasing arrangements.  More »

    ​Read about new 2016 legislation.
  • Independent Contractors

    Independent ContractorsThis section explains the difference between an independent contractor and an employee.  More »

    ​​Read about 2015 court cases and new 2016 legislation.
  • Interns

    InternsProceed carefully when deciding to use unpaid interns. Many employers believe interns are unpaid workers. Unfortunately, this is not the case.  More »

  • Volunteers

    VolunteersEmployers should exercise caution if considering using "volunteers" as part of their workforce.  More »

  • Telecommuters

    TelecommutersTelecommuting arrangements generate a number of legal issues relating to federal and state wage and hour laws.  More »

  • Industrial Homeworkers

    Industrial HomeworkersIndustrial homework is the manufacture of materials or articles in a home for an employer when these articles or materials are not for the personal use of the employer or a member of his/her family.  More »

A person's employment status depends in large part on the duties performed and the level of supervision over how the duties are performed.