New Florida Law Protects Employers That Aid Independent Contractors in Emergencies from Misclassification Claims

Florida employers that utilize independent contractors now can assist them during declared emergencies without fear of employee misclassification claims. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed Senate Bill 542 into law, which offers legal protection for businesses in this situation. The law prevents employers’ actions concerning their independent contractors from being used as evidence to establish an employee-employer relationship in specific civil causes of action. Senate Bill 542 went into effect on July 1, 2022.

The new Florida state law addresses employer actions toward “engaged individuals,” or anyone “who provides a good or service to a business or on behalf of a business and who is remunerated for the good or service, regardless of the individual’s classification as an employee or independent contractor.” The law allows employers to take the following actions concerning their engaged individuals during declared emergencies:

  • Provide financial assistance to their engaged individuals who are unable to work due to health and safety concerns;
  • Directly provide health and safety benefits to their engaged individuals, such as medical or cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, health checks, or medical testing;
  • Provide health or safety training to their engaged individuals or the public; and
  • Take any action intended to protect the health and safety of engaged individuals, including any action required or suggested by any federal, state, or local law, ordinance, order, or directive.

As a result of this law, employers who take any of the above actions need not worry about their actions being used in civil suits against them as evidence that they have created employer-employee relationships with their independent contractors. 

Employers are increasingly looking for independent contractors to fill various roles in many companies across various industries. As this law only impacts employers when the State Health Officer has declared a public health emergency or the Governor has declared a state of emergency, its implications for employers are limited. As a result, employers should continue to take necessary steps to ensure that their independent contractors meet all requirements to establish independent contractor status. 

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

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Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.
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