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Virginia to crack down on employers who misclassify workers

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Richmond, VA – Virginia’s occupational safety and health program (VOSH) is cracking down on employers who misclassify some workers as independent contractors.

Misclassification of employees as contractors or subcontractors constitutes payroll fraud, denies employees basic worker protections and could have a large impact on a worksite’s safety culture, according to C. Ray Davenport, commissioner for the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

“Employers who are willing to commit payroll fraud and cut corners when it comes to providing employee protections such as workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance may be willing to cut corners when it comes to providing a safe and healthy workplace,” Davenport said in a June 2 memorandum announcing a new policy aimed at preventing employee misclassification.

Under the new policy, if during safety inspections VOSH has reason to believe workers have been misclassified, the agency will request contractors and subcontractors to provide proof of their Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation license. Additionally, if VOSH citations are issued to the misclassifying employer, no penalty reduction for size or good faith will be provided.

The new policy is scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Department of Labor and Industry is conducting outreach to educate workers, employers and the public on the “debilitating effects” of misclassification.