You gotta love being an independent contractor. No, really, you do. Trust me on this.

There is something liberating about being your own boss, seeting your own hours, choosing who you work with and for what salary or hourly rate.

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Nathan via a Creative Commons license]

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Nathan via a Creative Commons license]

But there is also something about being at risk if you work on a worksite location for two or more of your clients. If you are one of those contractors or a person who actually is employed by two or more employers (say, in food-service or retail) who goes into high-risk environments, you cannot and should not assume that your clients/employers are going to have all their safety protocols in place on your behalf. In many respects, even though they pay you like an employee, you are not an employee, so they are generally under no obligation to provide you with the safety training that their employees have when they work. It is usually up to you as an indie to protect yourself in such situations and have your own common-sense safety guidelines.

However, the U.S. Department of Labor has recently put out an interpretation of labor compliance regulations that seems to put a reasonable share of the compliance responsibility on both or all of the employers for whom you work on a worksite. There are some scenarios addressed in the interpretation in which two or more employers are involved with a single employee, and each employer’s due diligence for compliance in each scenario.

There are times where joint employers do not know they are a joint employer of a worker, and there are times where an employee may not deem it necessary to communicate his or her employment situation with another employer. For the sake of safety compliance, having this communication open and honest is vital, but the Labor Department does still have resources to help employers and employees learn about certain common joint-employer scenarios that may or may not be considered within the context of the employee-employer relationship.

If you are an employee working for two or more bosses, the links included in this post may be helpful for you in gathering information about your rights and expectations from your two (or more) employers. And if you are someone who may be employing a contractor who could be working with another employer simultaneously, this information will be good to help you understand the various joint-employer scenarios and analyze your role in compliance for the sake of this shared employee.

Aren’t we all taught that sharing is caring?