NEWS17 November 2022

Treat participants as independent contractors, Insights Association urges US government

News North America Public Sector

US – Trade organisation the Insights Association has asked the US Department of Labor to clarify that research subjects participating in market research will be treated as independent contractors.

Focus group top view_crop

The Department of Labor has proposed new Fair Labor Standards Act rules that will provide guidance to employers on classifying workers.

The new rules, according to the Insights Association, could mistakenly lead to participants receiving incentives for taking part in surveys, focus groups and other market research activities being categorised as employees of research companies.

Such an interpretation would be "the wrong result and presumably not the intention of the proposal," the industry organisation said.

In comments submitted to the Department of Labor, the Insights Association said: "Research subjects do not seek to share their opinions as ‘a job’ or proxy for employment, but rather because they wish to share their opinions and have an impact (and maybe have some fun as well)."

"Research subjects receiving incentives are not employed by the organisation or company conducting the research – they are, if subject to any legal status at all, independent contractors; accordingly, they should be recognised as such. Their participation is completely voluntary and they may opt out at any time."

The organisation added: "Market research participation is far outside of the ‘traditional employment paradigm' and does not conform to ‘the usual path of an employee.'"