Pew Charitable Trusts Interviews YoungWilliams President Rob Wells
YoungWilliams President Rob Wells has been interviewed by the Pew Charitable Trusts for an article entitled, “Gig Economy Gives Child Support Scofflaws a Place to Hide.” The article explored barriers with respect to collecting child support through wage withholding from on-demand car services such as Uber and Lyft, and other members of the new economic model known as the “gig economy” where workers are independent contractors who free-lance to transport passengers, make deliveries, or provide short-term lodging.
State child support agencies have the ability to collect child support from independent contractors; however, they often don’t know where and when they are working. Businesses are required to report the names and identifying information about newly hired and rehired employees to their state’s new hire database, although they are not, without specific legislation, required to report independent contractors as employees. Although there has been ongoing litigation about the status of Uber and Lyft drivers, they are currently considered independent contractors, and therefore are not subject to reporting under most states’ new hire laws. On the other hand, about a dozen states require independent contractors to be reported. A matrix of states and their reporting requirements can be found on the website of the federal office of child support enforcement at https://ocsp.acf.hhs.gov/irg/irgpdf.pdf?geoType=OGP&groupCode=EMP&addrType=NHR&addrClassType=EMP. It is not known whether businesses in the gig economy are fully compliant with their respective state’s new hire reporting laws. Even when companies hiring independent contractors do report, the contractor may have already stopped working for the business, making the contractor’s earnings impossible to garnish or intercept.
As head of the largest private provider of services under contract with government child support agencies in several states, Rob Wells has insight into this issue. “Often the former spouse or partner of the parent who owes past due child support has more information than we do about the parent’s current source of income. They have access to this information through social media, friends, neighbors, families, and other community resources. If they know a delinquent parent has a specific source of income, they should report it to the child support agency handling their case. This will allow us to take appropriate action as soon as possible.” Wells added, “The on-demand economy is growing at breakneck speed. We will need to get a handle on this through legislation, employer outreach, comprehensive monitoring for compliance, and creative solutions to help children obtain the support they deserve from both parents.”
YoungWilliams currently has child support operations in 9 states.