Summary Definition: A business that shares the control of and responsibility for a worker’s employment with another business, thus giving both organizations a legal relationship with the employee.
A joint employer is a business entity that shares employment of one or more individuals. For example, a temporary employee from a staffing agency may be employed by that agency and the client business they work for.
In October 2023, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) released a new rule on joint employment that expands the joint employer status and clarifies how employers share responsibilities:
Previously, the joint employer role was less defined, so organizations didn’t have to take responsibility for employment conditions or contractual terms if a worker’s shared employment status was unclear.
For example, if the employee’s work contract didn’t specifically state which joint employer had to provide employee benefits, neither employer was required to do so.
The new rule tries to prevent this by requiring joint employers to specify who owns or is responsible for all employment conditions and terms, such as pay equity.
By adding these safeguards to ensure fair treatment of employees, the new rule also gives employees and labor unions more bargaining power. By legally requiring joint employers to own and fulfill all aspects of an employment agreement, both employers are also:
Moreover, the new rule allows employee representatives and unions to bargain over any employment term or condition, not just the essential aspects listed above.
Joint employment has several benefits, including:
There are, however, some complications as well:
To avoid these issues from spiraling out of control, make joint employer contracts as clear and detailed as possible.
Before becoming a joint employer, take some time to prepare for the arrangement to make the situation more manageable:
For example, since co-employers can be liable for each other’s labor disputes, ironing out all responsibilities in advance can reduce risk of extra liabilities.
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