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DWD logo

Tony Evers, Governor
Amy Pechacek, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

Oct. 20, 2023
CONTACT: DWD Communications

DWD Launches Campaign to Combat Worker Misclassification

Incorrect worker designation creates unlevel playing field for employers, affects worker benefits

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce (DWD) this week launched an educational campaign to build awareness of and help combat worker misclassification, a practice in which employees are incorrectly and illegally treated as independent contractors. Under the law, workers are presumed to be employees unless an employer demonstrates the workers meet the legal criteria to be independent contractors.

"Worker classification is important because it determines an employer's legal obligations for unemployment insurance, worker's compensation insurance, and other protections that employees have earned," DWD Secretary Amy Pechacek said. "Building greater awareness was one of the recommendations of Gov. Evers' Joint Enforcement Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification. We hope to educate the public and encourage workers to report suspected misclassification so that they can receive the rights and protections they've earned and DWD can help level the playing field for employers who do follow the rules."

Most educational campaign materials will run through Nov. 19, with certain elements continuing through March 2024. Elements include bilingual billboards in Milwaukee and Green Bay, Spanish language radio spots, updated brochures, and social media postings. In addition, DWD has an updated web page that provides information on misclassification to employers and workers, including how to report suspected misclassification. The funding source for the $90,000 campaign is a $6.4 million U.S. Department of Labor Equity Grant that DWD successfully pursued in 2022.

Employee misclassification is of concern in Wisconsin and other states because it results in wage theft, tax avoidance, loss of worker protections such as unemployment insurance, and worker's compensation. Employers who misclassify workers as independent contractors gain an unfair competitive advantage over other employers.

DWD combats misclassification through investigation and enforcement as well as education and outreach with stakeholder groups including unions and workforce development boards. Past educational materials include 60-second misclassification videos promoted on DWD's website and social media.

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Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development efficiently delivers effective and inclusive services to meet Wisconsin's diverse workforce needs now and for the future. The department advocates for and invests in the protection and economic advancement of all Wisconsin workers, employers and job seekers through six divisions – Employment and Training, Vocational Rehabilitation, Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights, Worker's Compensation and Administrative Services. To keep up with DWD announcements and information, sign up for news releases and follow us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.