Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Maryland Workplace Fraud Act of 2009 - "Independent Contractors" in the Construction and Landscaping Industries

The General Assembly last session passed the Workplace Fraud Act of 2009. The Act grants to the Maryland Department of Labor authority to misclassification of employees as independent contractors in the construction and landscaping industries. The Act allows an employer who misclassifies an employee but does not do so knowingly to come into compliance within 45 days without penalty. Employers who "knowingly" misclassify employees, however, may be subject to a penalty of up to $5,000 per misclassified employee. The Act uses Maryland's broad definition of employee.

While a step in the right direction, the Act is limited. It only applies to landscaping and construction. There is no private right of enforcement (only the State Department of Labor has a right to enforce the law).

Employees who have been misclassified (in any industry) as independent contractors in Maryland have other remedies. They can often pursue claims for overtime, unpaid wages, unemployment and can appeal their tax treatment to the IRS. Contact me if you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Important Changes to Maryland Unemployment Law

The 2009 General Assembly enacted several changes to Maryland's unemployment law (the link goes to a review of the session -- scroll down to page 35 for the unemployment law reforms)

Here are the highlights:

Increase in benefits: The maximum weekly benefit rate will increase from increase from $380 to $410 for claims establishing a new benefit year on or after October 4, 2009. For claims establishing a new benefit year on or after October 3, 2010, the maximum weekly benefit is increased from $410 to $430. Additionally, by virtue of Federal Law, unemployment benefits have been extended up to an additional 33 weeks.

Benefits for Part-Timers: Individual who work on a part-time basis for at least 20 hours per week are now eligible for benefits.

Severance pay is disqualifiying. Eliminating what many thought was a loophole all severance and dismissal payments are deductible from unemployment insurance benefits