President Barack Obama (file photo)

BY DERON AKIONA – Independent contractors in Hawaii don’t draw a salary from a single company, but work on contract or through an alternative arrangement providing services, often to a larger enterprise.

President Barack Obama’s budget, released in February, includes $14 million to combat so-called employee misclassification, enabling the U.S. Department of Labor to coordinate with the IRS and participating states to reclassify employees.

This assault by state and federal agencies is forcing companies to reclassify their independent contractors as rank-and-file employees. This action has harmful consequences to the economy and could lead to millions of lost jobs and disruption to vital services.

Independent contractors are a vital and experienced part of the workforce in many sectors of the economy, including financial services and emergency medicine.

In 2010, independent contractors accounted for $626 billion in personal income – that’s one in eight dollars earned in the United States. What’s more, economists predict that independent contractors will make up at least 50% of the workforce by 2020.

The right of independent contractors to work for themselves and make their own professional decisions should not be placed in jeopardy by our elected officials.

Forcing companies to reclassify individuals as employees is bad for business and bad for the men and women who have chosen to work for themselves and support their families in this way. Independent Contractor help Hawaii’s economy to continue growth in the most difficult times.