The US Labor Department has extended by 15 days the comment period on its recent independent contractor proposal, after complaints from critics who said the initial time frame alloted for the rule was too short.
The decision comes after at least three different business groups and lawmakers have asked for more time to review the 184-page proposal released earlier this month, arguing that the potential impact of the regulation warrants more time for the public to digest the policy changes. The new deadline for public input is Dec. 13.
Tech, construction, and trucking industries that typically rely on independent contractors to operate their businesses have been following this worker classification issue closely. Companies have said they’ll face new legal liabilities if they’re required to classify their workers as employees.
The initial 46-day public comment period could have raised questions under the Administrative Procedure Act, a law that governs the agency rulemaking process and in part requires that agencies give the public a “meaningful” opportunity to provide feedback on the policy change, critics of the rulemaking say. …
Ahead of its decision to extend the comment period, the DOL had been peppered with requests for an extension from the National Retail Federation, management-side attorneys and Republican lawmakers.
The DOL said it estimated it would take parties 30 minutes on average to review the proposal. The new comment period would last for 61 days total.
But one former DOL official noted that the comment period may not be an issue.
Paul DeCamp, a Wage and Hour administrator during the George W. Bush administration, said he’s skeptical the comment period will be the legal question to trip up the rule in court.
“I’d be surprised if 45 versus 30 versus 60 or longer ends up being the main issue if this rule ends up in court,” said DeCamp, now an attorney at Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. “I do think it would be difficult for courts to strike this rule given that the rule largely mirrors the case law that existed before the Trump-era regulation.”