Bill would restore joint employer definition

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Legislation approved Oct. 28 by the Education and the Workforce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives would negate the National Labor Relations Board's August decision that changed the standard for determining joint employer status.

The committee, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), approved H.R. 3459, the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act, by a 21-15 vote. Proponents say that the act would help small businesses create jobs.

For more than 30 years, the NLRB considered two or more employers to be joint employers if they had actual, direct and immediate control over the essential terms and conditions of employment. The NLRB decision in August changed the joint employer standard to include employers that share responsibility for or co-determine matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment. Senior living operators and other companies that use temporary workers or contract for certain work could be considered joint employers under the refined definition, meaning that they ultimately are held responsible for decisions related to terms and conditions of employment.

The NLRB said that its previous joint employer standard had failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances. More than 2.87 million of the nation's workers, it noted, were employed through temporary agencies in August 2014.

As passed, H.R. 3459 would amend the National Labor Relations Act to restore the previous definition of joint employer.

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