Friday, December 14, 2007

EXECUTIVE ORDER #17

Here you can read about Executive Order #17, which New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer issued back in early September and many in the media and in the blog netherworld have been speculating may have brought about the recently proposed changes in freelance benefits and payroll at Viacom.

But then again, maybe not.

Although we are hardly scholars of executive orders, it seems as if this was directed primarily toward people designating employees as 'independent contractors', those who use a 1099 tax form and are responsible for paying all their own payroll taxes, while the employer pays none. In addition it was aimed at those being paid 'off the books'- none of which applies here (as far as we can tell).

Even if that is the case and this didn't really effect Viacom and its current classification system, it is possible that some companies got jitters upon hearing that this executive order was being issued and decided to go a little more legit in terms of the classification of their employees- hence the new payroll system.

There is no question that as 'freelance employees' as many of us were thus designated, we were getting a really comprehensive benefit package. But perhaps in the haste to 'go legit', they jumped the gun, not realizing just how many long-time everyday employees were getting caught up in the net- employees who had a legitimate claim that they were anything but freelance- but rather belonged to the more undefined class of 'permalancers'.

This whole thing has the uneasy feeling of last year, when the layoff rumors were leaked by some irresponsible person to the blogs and everyone sat around waiting for the ax to fall. We've got our benefits back (for now), but everyone has been wondering 'what's next?'.

If anyone has any idea how any of this freelancer/ employee designation works or how it pertains to EO17, it would be greatly appreciated since we are again clueless over all of this.

We're just throwing some questions out there and looking for someone else to provide some better answers.

You can read Executive Order #17 here.

11 comments:

Anne Libby said...

I saw a quote in the Times from a Brian who had been freelancing at Viacom for 2 years, and I thought, this is possibly the sort of behavior that Spitzer is looking to stop.

Check out this test from *Change To Win*

"Does your boss call you an independent contractor and
1. Tell you how to do your job?
2. Tell you when or where to do your work?
3. Do you work full-time for one employer?
4. Can you be fired at anytime?
5. Do you receive payments of regular amounts at set intervals?"

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you could be misclassified as an independent contractor.

Link to CTW's test:

http://www.changetowin.org/fileadmin/pdf/misclassified-flier.pdf

IRS definition of an independent contractor is at: http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=128602,00.html

Good luck, guys

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