Year of the Independent Contractor

Direct Selling Association

This is the Year of the Independent Contractor, and it is important to recognize that direct selling’s most significant advantages over traditional retail are the independent contractors who have personal, trusted relationships with customers that are virtually impossible to replicate in traditional or online retail.

Protecting our independent salesforce and their ability to build a business on their own terms remains our lynchpin issue.

Joseph Mariano

DSA has made independent contractors’ prevalent in their initiatives. To ensure members are apprised of the most current developments, the Association launched the Independent Contractor Update. This monthly newsletter summarizes events impacting independent contractor status across the country and provides updates on what DSA is doing to position the state of direct sellers positively.

In July, DSA hosted the first Independent Contractor Practicum in Washington, D.C. Nicholas C. Geale, Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of Labor, discussed the policy priorities of the Administration and Department of Labor to protect and encourage independent contractors. DSA continues to foster positive relationships with government officials to protect our businesses.

In addition to this participation by the Trump administration, the practicum convened leading voices from member companies and outside practitioners to explore updates on recent legal developments for independent contractor status, implications for independent contractors of the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the association’s legislative initiatives. A range of specific issues relevant to direct sellers as independent contractors such as salesforce training, social media monitoring and contract enforcement were also discussed.

DSA also began an Independent Contractor Working Group under the auspices of the Government Relations Committee. This group of legal and government affairs professionals are examining the legal landscape of independent contractor law and how to differentiate direct selling from those new economy players that now utilize the independent contractor model. A specific goal is to analyze the environment in Washington, D.C. and state capitols to gain increased insights into ways that statutes can more clearly define distributors as independent contractors to keep providing the freedom and flexibility to operate their businesses.

Pick up your print copy of the September 2018 issue in which this article appeared.

DSA has already identified several critical independent contractor initiatives:

  • Federal legislation to make clear that direct sellers are not covered by the rigid employment requirements of the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA).
  • Efforts to clarify similar laws in the states:
    • Continue DSA’s long-standing efforts to have direct selling exemptions from state unemployment coverage;
    • Work as part of a coalition to overturn the recent “Dynamex” decision in California that changed independent contractor law;
    • Remain the leader of the national coalition of businesses devoted to preserving independent contractor status;
    • Engage in our public proclamations of the “Year of the Independent Contractor” and promoting direct sellers as the “original entrepreneurs.”

I am optimistic about the future. I know that by empowering direct sellers, our industry can play to our strengths and leverage our experience, entrepreneurial know-how and drive to innovate and capitalize on the market opportunities.

Our industry has much to gain by empowering direct sellers, and we look forward to embarking on the bold, ambitious initiatives that will preserve our distributors’ ability to continue to thrive for decades to come.

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