House Pushes Bill to Define Joint Employer—and It's Bipartisan
Burger King franchisee Ed Braddy spoke during a July 27 press conference on Capitol Hill to introduce the new bill, according to the IFA Insider.
A U.S. House committee has introduced legislation defining what it means to be a “joint employer,” stating the employer must “directly, actually and immediately” exercise significant control over the primary elements of employment to be so considered and thus liable for violations of workers’ rights.
The bill, introduced last week and called the Save Local Business Act, is a direct rebuke to the National Labor Relations Board, which in its 2015 Browning-Ferris Industries case adopted and expanded the joint employer standard to include anyone who exercises indirect, potential or unexercised reserved control.
The bill, if passed, would update the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act “to provide clarity for local businesses on what it means to be a joint employer,” said a statement from the Coalition to Save Local Businesses.
The bill has a notable feature in this age of polarized government—it is bipartisan, sponsored by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Reps. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Lou Correa (D-CA). No word yet about what chances the legislation has in the House, not to mention the Senate.
Franchisees from Burger King, Checkers, FastSigns International, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and ServiceMaster also took part in the press conference to introduce the bill.
Robert Cresanti, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association, called the bill “the most important legislation for franchising in a generation,” and added in a statement it provides “needed clarity and certainty to America’s 730,000 franchise businesses regarding the unlimited joint employer scheme in the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, the most costly and burdensome regulations impacting the franchise business model.”
Supporters of efforts by the NLRB to expand the definition of joint employer, on the other hand, argue against letting franchisors off the hook for workplace violations at their franchisees’ businesses. They say subcontracting and franchising are both examples of a “fissured economy,” in which the larger and more powerful entities are not held accountable for fixing workplace violations even though they benefit from the work people do.