House Panel to Examine Worker Misclassification and E-Verify Legislation

Kristi Pronovost Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

Next week, the House Labor & Industry Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks), will hear testimony on two laws related to construction in an effort to better understand the effects of those laws and determine if any changes need to be made.

In 2012, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law the Public Works Employment Verification Act, requiring the employment eligibility of employees on public works projects. The use of e-Verify to validate workers citizenship status has been a struggle not only at the state level, but nationally as well, as many industries grapple with the heavy use of undocumented workers. As a follow-up to the 2012 law, Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh) has introduced House Bill 1170, which would extend e-Verify to private projects as well. The bill would continue to focus only on the construction industry and would require the same employment verification for employees as the 2012 law.

Also expected to be a focus are a pair of bills by Rep. John Galloway (D-Bucks), who previously served as the Minority Chair of the House Labor & Industry Committee. Galloway’s bills both focus on the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act, which was signed into law in 2010 as an effort to deter employers from skirting the provision of benefits to employees by classifying them as “independent contractors.” The practice, known as “1099-ing,” allowed employers to pay a flat rate to employers without offering benefits by labelling them as contractors rather than employees. The Construction Workplace Misclassification Act put into place a series of criteria that would automatically deem individuals as employees to prevent misclassification. Galloway’s House Bill 715 would only allow independent contractors if their contracts were project and time-specific. House Bill 716, on the other hand, would assemble a task force to look at worker misclassification in general and make recommendations for policy that could improve the law.

Both issues will be a focus on next week’s hearing, which will be held on Monday, April 29th.

April 25, 2019