Make Washington’s Independent Contractor Laws Uniform

Two years ago, Maine changed its independent contractor laws to make them simpler to follow, and uniform across all state agencies. The reasoning for the decision, as well as the state’s desire to fix an obvious problem, almost brought tears to these eyes. Good tears, mind you. Back then, Maine’s Labor Commissioner explained:

“Under the old rules, a business could have a worker classified as an employee under worker’s comp, but as an independent contractor for unemployment taxes…That made no sense, so the administration and many interested parties from all sides came to the table and worked out a better definition that both the Department of Labor and the Worker’s Compensation Board will apply consistently.”

In revising its definition, Maine not only made IC law uniform across agencies, it opted to use IRS determinations that a worker is an independent contractor for federal purposes, as evidence that the worker is an independent contractor for state purposes, thus creating further uniformity in the independent contractor designation across state and federal agencies.

As I’ve written here on this blog, Washington businesses face similar confusion as the definitions of independent contractor and employee changes across agencies. Moreover, an IRS determination of independent contractor status isn’t taken into account by any of our state agencies.  It’s time that we look to Maine and improve our independent contractor laws and make them more uniform across state and federal agencies.

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