The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent grocery industry, has thrown its strong support behind the Save Local Business Act. Introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kans., and Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the legislation would codify into law the traditional joint-employer standard, which conditions employment liability on “direct, actual and immediate control over workers’ terms and conditions of employment.”
In 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revealed proposed regulation on the joint-employer standard that would expand the current standard of what constitutes a joint employer, which NGA contends would place independent grocers at higher risk of legal uncertainty and litigation.
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“This new definition of a ‘joint employer’ is a textbook definition of government-supported labor overreach, putting small businesses like independent grocers in potential scenarios where they are held liable for contractors that do business in their stores, like DSD shelf-stockers or cleaning service workers,” noted Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “We also fear this rule could complicate the legal relationship that retailers enjoy with wholesalers, cooperatives and marketing alliances. NGA supports the Save Local Business Act, which would institute a stable joint-employer standard going forward.”
The Save Local Business Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to clarify that two or more employers must have “actual, direct and immediate” control over employees to be considered joint employers. According to NGA, the proposed joint-employer scheme’s expanded employment liability framework could destabilize common business relationships for grocers, including vendors and wholesaler partnerships.
NGA filed comments on the NLRB’s proposed expansion of the joint-employer standard last December and expects a final determination in August.