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Employee misclassification. Article 8 of House Bill 7133, the 2015 budget, created the Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification.
The task force will look into underpayments of unemployment insurance, workers compensation premiums, Social Security taxes and income taxes, all stemming from the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. For employees, the consequences of misclassification can mean ineligibility for unemployment or workers compensation benefits.
The goal of the task force will be to foster voluntary compliance by educating employers, thereby leveling the playing field for companies that classify their employees properly, making the extra payments on their behalf.
Background checks for firefighters. House Bill 8037, signed July 3, requires firefighter applicants to undergo state and federal criminal background checks and fingerprinting prior to hire. Fingerprint records would be destroyed after the completion of the background check.
Background checks for recreational employees or volunteers. House Bill 7126, signed July 2, would require municipal recreation departments to obtain written authorization to perform a background check on a volunteer or employee.
Minimum wage. A $1 increase to Rhode Island’s minimum wage, under legislation enacted in 2014, will bring the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour as of Jan. 1, 2015.
Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.
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