NLRB Reinstates Expansive Joint-Employment Standard

Written by Rachael Skinner

March 14, 2018

More than 2.5 million workers are employed by temporary agencies, and the National Labor Relations Board is working to determine the definition and scope of these joint-employers to determine who is responsible in the case of unfair labor practices. These definitions will likely have an effect on the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. With new labor laws being passed to better protect worker’s rights, there was a need to address how employees are obtained through staffing, subcontracting and/or contingent employment arrangements.

What is a Joint-Employer?

Joint employers are considered to be two or more businesses who employ a single work force, and who manage the conditions of employment, not just in word but also in deed – meaning they have and can exercise enforcement or implementation of employment terms and conditions. But, this definition is what may or may not be changing.

If employees unionize, or if there is a lawsuit for unfair labor practices, it is crucial to understand who is responsible for those negotiations and liability, such as in this McDonald’s lawsuit where franchisees and corporate are being charged with failing to provide promised benefits and making threats.

How Does This Impact You?

Any employers who may have joint-employment relationships, such as temp workers, should be watching the changes in this area to be sure they are compliant with labor laws. As of now and the publishing of this article, the current standing is in alignment with the 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries standard which offers a less broad definition of joint-employers. A December 2017 decision had expanded the understanding, however that was overturned February 26, 2018.


Legal experts do believe this change will likely only be temporary. President Trump’s nomination of John Ring to fill the NLRB seat vacancy will likely reinstate the original change, or at least create something similar. Additionally, changes to the National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act due to the passing of the Save Local Business Act in November may also put pressure on Senate to make the change.

How do changes in Joint-Employer definitions affect your business? Do you rely on temporary or contract employees? Are you struggling to keep up with the most important and relevant labor laws? Adi Insights is here to support your labor compliance with a suite of tools designed specifically for you. Learn more at:

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