It’s 4:30 a.m. on a Monday. Tom, the only driver and co-owner with his wife of T&M Trucking, unlocks the plant gate and drives to his semi parked behind the driver’s room. On his way to his parking spot, Tom takes an appraising look at the gravel, stone, and sand piles. He notices that the gravel pile is a little low, probably due to the number of COD orders on Saturday. Tom decides to trek out to the gravel pit for his first load of the day. Throughout the day, Tom will work pretty much on his own keeping the piles full.

This has been his early morning routine for more than a decade. His only customer is the ready-mix concrete plant. He has come to depend on their weekly payout. Loyal to the cause, Tom plans his vacations to coincide with winter shutdowns. The plant manager views Tom as so much of a fixture at the plant, he invites him to every holiday party.

Is Tom an independent contractor or an employee?

Due to a recently published interpretation of whether a worker is an employee or self-employed contractor, producers may be forced to hire some familiar faces who play an important part in their operations, perhaps like the “Tom” described above. In July 2015, Administer David Weil of the Department of Labor’s Wages and Hour Division issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2015-1. The document sets guidelines on how courts, the Internal Revenue Service, and state agencies should determine “whether a worker is truly in business for him or herself.”