Missouri bill would set rules on trucker classification

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/28/2014

A bill halfway through the Missouri statehouse is intended to settle potential disputes over classification of independent contractors, including owner-operators.

The House voted 99-50 to advance a bill that gives small-business truck drivers the benefit of the doubt on independent contractor status.

Specifically, the bill introduced by Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, would require the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to provide “a clear and concise rule” for defining independent contractors. A procedure would also be established for changing an individual’s classification from an independent contractor to an employee.

In instances when a trucker’s classification is in question, the bill would establish a process for the individual and employer involved to request a review from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Employers classifying a driver as an independent contractor based on the department’s opinion letter couldn’t be fined if the department later determines that the person is an employee.

In addition, employers would be given 60 days to correct the situation if there is a misclassification.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the effort. In a letter urging Missouri state lawmakers to endorse the bill, the Association notes that “the bill protects employers who, absent fraud, misclassify an employee or independent contractor.”

The bill also seeks to ensure transparency by providing an opportunity for the public to comment on the rule’s implementation.

HB1642 awaits further consideration in the Senate Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee. If approved there, it would move to the Senate floor before it could head to Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

Time is running out for the bill to advance to the governor. The regular session is scheduled to wrap up May 16.

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