Friday, December 2, 2011

Computer Professionals Update(CPU) Act (S1747)

US developers (especially contractors) should read the new law working its way through the Senate.  It relates to the how the Department of Labor classifies developers, DBAs, and other computer professionals.

S1747 Computer Professionals Update Act

Section 13(a)(17) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 213(a)(17)) is amended to read as follows:
‘(17) any employee working in a computer or information technology occupation (including, but not limited to, work related to computers, information systems, components, networks, software, hardware, databases, security, internet, intranet, or websites) as an analyst, programmer, engineer, designer, developer, administrator, or other similarly skilled worker, whose primary duty is--
‘(A) the application of systems, network or database analysis techniques and procedures, including consulting with users, to determine or modify hardware, software, network, database, or system functional specifications;
‘(B) the design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing, securing, configuration, integration, debugging, modification of computer or information technology, or enabling continuity of systems and applications;
‘(C) directing the work of individuals performing duties described in subparagraph (A) or (B), including training such individuals or leading teams performing such duties; or
‘(D) a combination of duties described in subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C), the performance of which requires the same level of skill;
who is compensated at an hourly rate of not less than $27.63 an hour or who is paid on a salary basis at a salary level as set forth by the Department of Labor in part 541 of title 29, Code of Federal Regulations. An employee described in this paragraph shall be considered an employee in a professional capacity pursuant to paragraph (1).’.

As a contractor, I have been affected by the existing rules multiple times, and it is an entirely frustrating interference between the government and the client/contractor relationship.

Consider this... time and material contractor Joe goes to work at the big regional utility.  He joins as a contractor for X$/hour.  Joe does a great job and is on a large project which after 2 years at the job, regional utility gets nervous about facing fines from the DOL because Joe may be "misclassified" and is being treated as a full time employee without benefits.  Joe was happy and the utility was happy. There was no reason for Joe or the utility to stop the existing relationship except for the threat of a lawsuit.  The utility tells Joe he has to leave but can return at some point in the future (usually months later).  Joe is out of a job, and utility loses a trained worker. These existing rules are convoluted to say the least.

Here's a great article about the law written for the Association of Corporate Counsel.

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